What’s Catalan for hypocrite? That drone you hear is Barcelona.

by Will ODoherty

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

For a club supposedly steeped in honour, Barcelona don’t half make an unseemly racket.

Club president Sandro Rosell’s ridiculous claim that Arsenal are immoral in pursuing Jon Toral, one of their youth players, is typically at odds with Barca’s hollow image of a shining example of what a football club should be.

Arsenal have paid Barcelona around £300k for a player who could come to nothing and who did not have a professional contract.

They have not bundled Toral into the back of a waiting car and driven him across the border, the player and his advisors – including agent Pere Guardiola, Pep’s brother – took the decision that he was best served in London.

Barcelona had the opportunity to fight for him, but didn’t, or at least didn’t do it well enough, and chose to bitch about it to the press who, with it being Barca, lapped it up.

Barca believe they are on a higher plane to every other club in the world, with on-field success and style befitting a club that is owned by the fans and stood as a beacon of Catalonian identity in the brutal times of General Franco.

The truth is, however, that they are as mired in the filth of everyday football as anyone else, and their attitude of denial merely accentuates it and paints them as hypocrites.

And as the emergency loans they needed to take out last summer show, they’re not even particularly good at it.

Lionel Messi was plucked from Newell’s Old Boys at the age of 13 and transported with his family and $1000 a month for his growth hormone deficiency treatment to a new home across the Atlantic.

While he undoubtedly flourished on his arrival, how much money could Newell’s have recouped had they kept hold of Messi? Atletico Madrid bought a 17-year-old Sergio Aguero from Independiente for almost £20m in 2006 – I hope Sr Rosell can sleep at night.

Players like Pedro and Andres Iniesta, and plenty on the conveyor belt, were hoovered up from other clubs. Will there be an apology, financial recompense? Will the players be sent back now that it is against the club’s moral code?

And some moral code it is. The annual pursuit of Arsenal’s star players plumbed new depths in the summer when Barcelona players used any air time they had during the World Cup to tap the Arsenal skipper up, culminating in them forcing a Barca shirt on him when he was meant to be soaking up the Spanish public’s adulation in their triumphant homecoming.

Usually it is through the dog-loyal Catalan press that Barcelona undermine other clubs, in an effort to provoke players into submitting transfer requests and forcing other clubs hands, and charging less in the process. Immoral AND illegal.

On the one hand you have the abysmally run, self-entitled Catalans who never shut up, and on the other you have the prudent Londoners who respectfully pursue their signings in private. I know which I think the better example is.

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