The 2018-19 La Liga is just a few days ahead, and with it, are the Spanish giants prepping up for the country’s top-flight football. One of the teams that are most eager to make a statement this season are the reigning champs, Barcelona FC.
Barca is undoubtedly Spain’s powerhouse club after winning the final against Deportivo 4-2 and snatching the title. However, the league has experienced a massive change over the off-season as numerous transfers happened.
Because of this, there’s no assurance that the Catalan club can repeat its achievement last season.
So what’s the best thing to do here? Well, get more star players. That’s just what they did as reports confirmed that Barca acquired Bayern Munich star, Arturo Vidal. Reports stated that the contract would run for three years in hopes of bolstering Barcelona's midfield strength.
The 31-year-old transferred for a fee of €25 million despite still having one more year in his contract with Bayern. Vidal spent three seasons in Germany and felt like moving to another country and club is the best career path for him.
In line with this, Barcelona stated that Vidal still needs to undergo a medical assessment in the days to come to finalize the transfer.
Having Vidal in Barcelona is a huge help in the club because they are in dire need of a midfielder whom they can depend on crucial situations. Barca manager Ernesto Valverde also sent Paulinho to Guangzhou on a loan as it seemed like his performance in Camp Nou didn’t go as planned after one season.
Vidal wasn’t in Barcelona’s radar a few months prior as they were eyeing Adrien Rabiot from Paris Saint-Germain. Frenkie de Joing, the youngster from Ajax, was also one of their first targets.
However, after following an in-depth assessment of these two prospects, the Barca coaches decided not to pursue the offers in fear that they won't be able to catch up before the transfer deadline. Because of this, they went with Vidal instead as Bayern is much keener on setting him free.
Getting to know Arturo Vidal
Meanwhile, Vidal had also been linked on a transfer to Inter Milan over the past months. He is one of the biggest names in the transfer radar throughout the offseason.
Most football analysts believe that the main reason why he decided to leave Bayern is because he felt like he was a surplus to the jam-packed midfield arsenal of Bayern coach Niko Kovac.
The Chilean footballer started out as a Colo-Colo midfielder before he moved to Europe and joined Bayer Leverkusen in 2007. He wasn't the brightest of players, but he sure has improved a lot.
Through time, he developed his skills and showed how big of a help he can be in the midfield lines. This helped him upgrade his career, which eventually led him to Juventus in 2011. Winning four straight Serie A finals seemed like a great deal for him, but surprisingly he moved to Bayern.
Having contributed 22 goals and 18 assists over his 124 games for Bayern is enough proof of his importance in the club. In fact, his skills are one of the reasons why Die Roten won three straight seasons.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, CEO of Bayern Munich, said in a statement that he, together with the rest of the club, is happy that Vidal played for him over the course of three great years.
He acknowledged Vidal’s contribution to the club, specifically stating that the Chilean helped them win a lot of titles and games. Rummenigge added that Vidal's leadership skills meant a lot to the team and that his games meant that they could rely on him greatly.
The entry of Vidal to Barcelona is the club’s fifth transfer signing this summer after they acquired Malcom from Bordeaux, Arthur from Gremio, Clement Lenglet from Sevilla, and MoussaWague from KAS.
What to expect
Barcelona has undergone a major change in their management after Eric Abidal was appointed as the new Director of Football of the club. Because of this, a number of transfers have pursued with Vidal being the latest addition.
This came as a surprise to most football fans as Vidal was supposed to be making the most out of his final year of stay in Bayern Munich.
However, the transfer did happen, and most see it as a replacement for Paulinho who has just been sent back to China to play for Guangzhou Evergrande after just playing one season in Spain.
Both players have a lot of similarities as they are similarly athletic, strong, and can play effective box-to-box midfield roles. They can also score goals smoothly even if they are met with strong opposition.
Vidal has a passing range and stamina that are both excellent, apart from being consistent. Combative would not suffice to describe him, given that he has, throughout 450 games with the club, been awarded 120 yellow cards and five reds.
He knows how to hold his cool in games, as well as maintain excellence.
Because of his impeccable skills, he is the first choice for a five-a-side team. Furthermore, he has what it takes to take on various positions, either playing as forward or defense, should the need arise.
He has done so in his more than 400 games as a player of Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, and Juventus, scoring goals roughly every five games, which increases the likelihood of him hitting the century mark for the season.
Despite the last-season injuries, in the past seven seasons playing for Bayern Munich and Juventus, Vidal has bagged the domestic championship award, apart from an array of domestic cups, which is impressive considering that he has been under the weather in terms of health in recent times, and having undergone a minor operation on the knee in April.
Other new members of the team include former Sevilla Center-back Clement Lenglet, who joined with a $40m pay. Malcom, France’s Bordeaux left side attacker is also joining for $50m. The 22-year old Gremio Midfielder, Arthur Melo, would also be joining the team for $45m.
Pressure is on for Melo to deliver, as he has always been compared to Iniesta. Senegal’s World Cup right-back, MoussaWague may also seem to be a great future player but has not played enough, with not more than 50 club matches under his belt.
He had a good run on his team, so the opportunity for him may come earlier than expected. While Aleix Vidal is returning to Sevilla, which he was a member of until he left in 2015, Arturo’s inclusion in the Barcelona team is already in the works.
Vidal, who is a wing-back or right-back has often failed to show why Barcelona paid Sevilla over $20m just to have him in the first place, despite the other 50 appearances he has had for the team.
Barcelona will be getting a pay-cut of about 50% for that to happen. Vidal, on the other hand, has played 47 games in his inaugural season with Sevilla, which lead to the team’s Europa League victory.
Lucas Digne also joins the roster of sold players for this season, having been sold for $23m to Everton, as well as the $15m move of Gerard Deulofeu to Watford early in the summer.
Winning three goals for his home country in the World Cup, Yerry Mina managed to impress, apart from his defensive skills. He was signed by Barcelona in January for just $15m, playing only in 6 games.
The small number of games made Barcelona believe that getting him was a mistake, and selling him with a great markup was the right thing to do. Teams that have expressed interest in getting him on the team is Manchester United.
Other players who have had a rough time with their team is Camp Nou’s midfielder, Andre Gomes, who is expected to look out for other teams to join.
Knowing more about the transfer
Valverde’s 3-0 defeat versus Roma following a 4-1 win has left Barcelona deeply shaken, and hence some revamping had to be done.
Getting Vidal on the team was part of the plan, thinking that having him as a pitch would have helped them keep their pace and get through that moment.
Effective balancing between fight and delivery is what Vidal has been touted to be good, as well as being responsive to when the need would arise.
Albeit not being a player lauded for good techniques, he does give something intangible, yet necessary for the whole team to not fall under too much pressure.
It's not the first time that Barcelona has done something like what they're doing with Vidal at the moment, and it's not sure if Vidal would be coming in as the team's starter. The signing has been met with criticism, especially among the apocalypticos.
Other similar strategies in other teams include Cruyff on Stoichkov, Pep on Keita and ToureRijkaard on Davids. As part of a measure to repair the lift that bridges the cantera with the first team, Abel Ruiz and RiguiPuig have to be taken good care of, and Miranda or Cucurella, who are both youth players, should serve as a replacement for Digne.
Apart from keeping players and replacing some with the right ones, the perfect balance between touch, pressure, and control have to be worked on. Vidal should not be considered as a threat to the balance between all this, however.
He has been in the midfield of Bayern Munich for the past three seasons, which makes his transfer quite confusing for some. German champions do know the ways to have him replaced without shelling out cash.
Some of the reasons why the fans are so in-love with him are because of his surging runs, well-motivated personality, and a tackling approach that's rather tightrope-walking, while it seems that Vidal has been in the middle-of-the-pack for the Bayern Munich for three years already.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the chief executive of Bayern, believes in this reliability, as he saif following Vidal’s confirmation of his Barcelona move. This is kind of puzzling, considering that Barca and Bayern are teams that are vying for the same trophy.
Vidal, indeed, has been an asset for most of his time at Bayern, for having added power, energy, and late runs done in the nick of time, with cues from Thiago, the nous and muscle of Javi Martinez, as well as the recycling job of Sebastian Rudy, and James Rodriguez’ vision.
He has a set of skills like no other player on the team, and thus, was the perfect complement among his teammates.
The addition of two players in the mix, however, in the form of Renato Sanches and Leon Goretzka, would mean that Vidal’s style isn’t any different compared to position rivals. The former, who rose to fame in 2016, has a similar style to him who was more than a decade old.
The midfielder, despite a good run at Euro 2016, has since been in troubled waters, but Rummenigge is hopeful that with his new coach, he can have a better stint, and make the most out of his time, with the $40 million signing two years ago.
Consistency has been a problem for Goretzka, but under Kovac, he can expect to play a bigger role, as his skills have always been sought-after, just as long as Schalke will be claiming second place in the last term.
Goretzka is a great defensive player but has not been given as much credit as he should have. He doesn't have so much action regarding style, but he is known for breaking from deep.
With Sanchez having 11 years, and Goretzka having eight years under their belt, as well as a higher wage, paved the way for Vidal to be sold.
There are a lot of options for the central midfield position of Bayern, but the across the team, that isn’t the case. Vidal’s exit is believed to have paved the way for wage saving, as well as open slots for other better deals in the future.
Holders of the Bundesliga have not yet spent money for neophyte players, which seems unsettling for a lot of fans. While the first XI looks solid, a lack of “depth” can be an issue in other player designations.
Rafinha does not seem to be good enough to serve as a replacement for either Frank Ribery, Joshua Kimmich, or Arjen Robben, who are all going to retire soon.
While both Rafinha and Sven Ulreich are good players, the loss to Real Madrid during the Champions league goes to show that getting strong subs is key to good gameplay. With Jerome Boateng and Robert Lewandowski's future uncertain, there need to be some gameplay areas that need to be made stronger.
Vidal’s sale is still one that’s sensical, despite how good of a player he is. At Eintracht Frankfurt, Kovac managed to show that success need not be expensive, nor do they have to spend money on it, despite what Rumminigge said in May that they would have to get at least one or two new players.
Pogba and Vidal reunited
With Vidal’s signing on to Barca, they are expected to reunite a dream-team for a midfield duo, and that is Vidal and Paul Pogba, which was formed at Juventus.
These speculations come with reportedly strained relationships between Pogba and Manchester United’s coach, Jose Mourinho, which makes him ready to leave the England team the second time around.
Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, would be negotiating the transfer this week, with a £100m offer needed for the deal to push through. The Catalan club is also working on deals to get what they need just so that the World Cup winner can be brought into the team.
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