Situation: You have a job. Your boss just bought a Ferrari, a posh new condominum and some new custom suits. He walks over to you, shooting the French cuffs on his perfectly fitted shirt, and says:
“So, we’re having some difficulties. I know you’ve been overworked lately, and we need to hire someone to help ease your load. So if you could just take a pay cut for the good of the company, that would be excellent. What do you think?”
Because this is a family blog, let’s steer clear of the barrage of expletives likely to pepper your relating of that conversation to your friends. But at the end of that barrage would likely be an emphatic “No.”
But let’s take this a step further, and say that your boss leaked stories to local business publications about how lazy and overpaid the people on your team are, and how he would like to bring in some better players, but can’t because you and your group are just hanging around, even after he talked to another firm about hiring you, and that firm agreed. Sure that firm is in a different, not as nice city, and they are C-rated instead of A-rated. But hey, he made a deal and what’s with you people?
Why would Frenkie De Jong, or Jordi Alba, or Sergio Busquets, or Gerard Pique be any different from any of us? Scream and rail about Bartomeu and his excesses all you like, but the reality of the matter is that the people running the club knew what the situation was, and still went out and acquired players. They now have one player, Jules Kounde, who can’t be registered because not only do the above players insist on their contracts being honored, but efforts to shift unwanted players such as Samuel Umtiti, Memphis Depay and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, have come to naught.
If you’re Kounde, how happy are you right now?
Hyperbolic scribes had fun with the Barça situation when they were buying players, and wrote about how the club is a pack of gum away from bankruptcy. This isn’t true, even if you fall back on the “too big to fail” worldview. Which isn’t to say that the club isn’t being horribly run right now. Entering the second match of the Liga season and its second most glam signing can’t be registered? What kind of chicken ranch is Laporta and his folks running over there?
Supporters have the long knives out for players who won’t leave, or take pay cuts. What largesse does the person who just kicked you in the crotch have the right to ask for? Barça is a mess that doesn’t look to unravel anytime soon. The transfer window could well end with all of the undesired still at the club, and the desired unable to play because of all of them. Tebas and LFP have put the kibosh on pulling any more levers, saying — and rightly so — that the club has to resolve this mess without selling anything else.
And Kounde sits, like Achilles during his rage.
Supporters are railing at the players who have the temerity to suggest that they have a contract, with wages specified therein. “They don’t love the club.” Well, no. Not in that way. Badge kissing doesn’t pay the bills. Further, why should they? What has the club done for them? De Jong isn’t some kid named Jordi, nurtured from birth in the cradle of La Masia. He’s a Dutch mid that FC Barcelona beat out other clubs for, with promises of riches and glory beyond compare. He can’t have one, but what about the other one? Pay me.
Alba and Pique are not entirely washed, but defo on the rinse cycle. But they have contracts. So pay them. If supporters want to scream at anyone, it should be Joan Laporta, the man who promised a party but one which, for some, is feeling like the Fyre Festival. Kounde signed to play for FC Barcelona, and for the second match running, he can’t. The club tried to peddle some nonsense about not being fully fit instead of the truth, which is that it can’t afford to register him without players moving on.
The mind boggles at the possibility that the club presumed that Frenkie De Jong would be thrilled at moving from Barcelona to Manchester, for a club not in Champions League and that presently sits rock bottom of the Premiership table. And oh, also give up that 17m we owe you as you’re leaving. As a favor to us. What kind of weird tribalism make people scream at De Jong for saying no?
At some point, somehow, FC Barcelona will fix this. Maybe this window, but if not then in January. It’s weird to consider the possibility that Kounde might, like Luis Suarez back when he transferred over, not be able to play until the winter window rolls around, along with the hope that players who haven’t been played will want to, and be able to leave.
It’s shameful. The club should be ashamed, Kounde should be furious and we should be asking questions of the people who engineered all of this. It’s easy to say, “Bartomeu left the club in a situation.” He did. But if you know things are a mess, if you know you shouldn’t buy that Ferrari, than condo or those posh suits and you do it anyhow, what then? What of your responsibility? The club has to sort its business. Right now it’s a laughingstock, and deservedly so. Imagine a player leaving because it’s a shitshow.
Unlikely, right? As unlikely as a raft of players hanging around, impeding teammates from being registered, as unlikely as captains on massive wages refusing pay cuts to help the club, as unlikely as unwanted players saying, “I like it here and am fine not playing. Just pay me.”
When all of that is happening, your club — my club — the club that we support and are devoted to, is a mess. And it’s fair to admit that, and wonder what the heck is going to happen next.