For women who love football, and for men who love it when women know the football game.

Womenforfootball.com- Recent shocking elimination at Champions League and more recently at Copa del Rey Final were hard pill to swallow for Barcelona fans. Catalonians were understandably used to back to back trebles and record breaking season under Pep Guardiola. However upon his departure on high note, in part due to hidden differences with club’s director, Sandro Rosell, Barcelona’s talented squad were far from spectacular anymore. In the following season, despite battling with cancer, the team manager, Tito Vilanova managed to win La Liga domestic trophy for Barcelona. Albeit, the team’s defensive flaws were evident and one trophy throughout the 2012-2013 season was drastically lower than Guardiola’s four trophies a year earlier.

Yet problems were not fixed, and when Vilanova had to step down due to health reasons, the club director focused on celebrity-style signings including the signing of 21 years old Neymar, as the most expensive deal to date; A fact that surely did not sit well with existing top scorer, Lionel Messi.

One year later, and Rosell, the club director, were publicly shamed of transfer fraud in the case of Neymar and resigned, the club faced a hefty fine, and the record signing of the club has only managed to score nine goals in 25 appearances-very much shy of Messi’s, Pedro’s and Sanchez’s, and the team have been knocked out of all competitions.

If Barcelona club era be divided into pre-Rijkaard’s crisis era, Rijkaard’s consistent era, Guardiola’s fantastic era, Vilanova’s era and Martino’s era, this season marked a disastrous season for Barcelona similar to Radomir Antic and Loius van Gaal era back in 2002-2003.

Here is the chart that shows the total number of trophies won by the club each season in the past five seasons:

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As evident in the chart, this season along with last season, was the worst season of the club in the past five seasons. Although both Martino and Vilanova have similar record in terms of winning one trophy with Barcelona, but Vilanova’s achievement in winning La Liga title is more reputable than Martino’s Spanish Super Cup trophy, since it was Vilanova’s team that made it to Super Cup Final.

Clearly, Barcelona is nearing the crisis era they experienced back in 2003, and if the club directors do not make bold moves to fundamentally improve the team, it could be the end of an era for Barcelona and a new beginning for their nearest rival, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

womenforfootball.com- What an exciting set of Champions League games we witnessed this past week. Atletico Madrid managed to eliminate Champions League favourites, Barcelona out of Quarter Finals and they advanced to Semifinals for the first time in 40 years. And as the Semifinal Draw took place today, Atletico Madrid will face Chelsea and Real Madrid will face Bayern Munich in the Semifinals.

Here is my take on Atletico Madrid’s dynasty this season that was published on SWOL:

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One thing was shared among chit chats of football fans in pubs and cafes of Barcelona and Madrid last night: They all whisper about “Atletico Madrid and Simeone”.

Barcelona and Real Madrid, both comfortable with tossing La Liga Championship towards each other every season for over ten years in a row, are now threatened by Atletico Madrid, ‘the poor men’s club in outskirt of Madrid’ as they are known in Spain. Atletico Madrid, under 43-years old Diego Simeone are leading the La Liga table, aiming to end the Spanish top flight’s trophy monopoly by Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The story got even more dramatic last night as Atletico Madrid, surrounded by thousands of home fans, managed to knock Barcelona, out of UEFA Champions League’s Quarterfinals. Barcelona team, with Messi and Neymar among its superstars, as evident throughout the season, had absolutely no sign of Tiki-taka, dominance and scoring touch they used to have under Guardiola. Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, even in the absence of their top scorer Diego Costa, were flawless on the pitch. The 2-1 aggregate scoreline and Barcelona’s elimination is specially hard to swallow for Barcelona fans, since they had appeared in all Champions League Semifinals since 2007-2008.

If Diego Simeone’s men manage to win the Champions League trophy this year, Simeone’s record would match Jose Mourinho’s historic Champions League trophy win with an out of favour team, Porto, back in 2003-2004. Even until this point, he has made history already at Atletico Madrid by taking the team to Semifinals of Champions League for the first time in 40 years.

For now through the focus returns to domestic league trophy: Diego Simeone’s team are eager to put an end to ten years of a back to back La Liga Championship monopoly by Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Originally published at http://swol.co/simeones-atletico-madrid-shakes-the-giants-monopoly-at-home-and-abroad/33855#zRbUHbvDcjUTtdSA.99

 

 

Womenforfootball.com- Things are getting really interesting at English Premier League these days. As the season is approaching the end, three teams in particular are neck and neck in terms of points and chances of Championship. So here is my published article at “soccer without limit” website:

Chelsea, Liverpool or City – Who Will Win the English Premier League?

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SWOL-

It has surely been a turbulent English Premier League this year.

Defending champions, Manchester United, started their weakest campaign on record in the absence of their retired legendary manager Alex Ferguson. And soon enough they found themselves in the inevitable position of 7th to drop their hat early into the season.

Arsenal, as usual started their campaign strongly, kept their edge at the top of the table until late March, and with record-signing Ozil, they looked determined to break their eight-year-long trophy drought. Their hopes were dashed one by one, however, during heavy defeats by the three teams ahead of them.

Manchester City bolstered their coaching staff by bringing in Manuel Pellegrini, eyeing the repeat of their last EPL trophy dating back to two seasons ago.

Chelsea finally put an end to months of speculation and brought back Stamford Bridge’s sweetheart, Jose Mourinho in the hopes of a Premier League trophy.

Liverpool, on the other hand, kept faith in their manager, Brendan Rodgers, and they managed a strong come-back after Arsenal’s slip-up, thanks in part to their top scorers, Luis Suarez and Daniel Strurridge.

With five weeks left to the end of EPL campaign, there are technically only three contestants vying for the EPL trophy. Liverpool leads the pack with 32 games played and 71 points. Chelsea sit just behind them with 69 points, and Manchester City are currently third with 67 points but with two games in hand.

Comparing the three teams’ fixture lists, Liverpool have a clear advantage on their side, considering two of their most important fixtures, against Manchester City and Chelsea, will be played at Anfield. That is while Chelsea, with fewest away wins among top three teams, has a crucial away match at Anfield. And Manchester City has crucial away games ahead against Liverpool and Everton. If either Chelsea or Manchester City lose their away match with Liverpool, that could be the turning point of the season.

So far, in terms of fixture lists, home advantage against their rivals, and having the two top scorers of the Premier League in their squad, Liverpool has the best chance to win this campaign’s Championship. After 24 years, Brendan Rodgers may just be the hero Liverpool fans have long been waiting for.

Original article at http://swol.co/chelsea-liverpool-or-city–who-will-win-the-english-premier-league/33759#ej8QOe2DeBEDt3u2.99

What a week it has been in European football in the past week:

  • Bayern Munich, under Pep Guardiola, managed to win Bundesliga trophy already in the fastest fashion ever recorded in club’s history, and earlier than any other Bundesliga team.
  • Manchester United team at home, under David Moyes, were trashed by Manchester City 3-0.
  • In a more miserable fashion, Arsenal was tramped by Chelsea 6-0 to lose hopes of English Premier League Championship.
  • Barcelona club, although struggling domestically this season, managed to defeat Real Madrid thanks to Messi’s hat trick, which also made the Argentine the top scorer of all time for Barcelona.

Regarding Manchester United’s miserable season under David Moyes, here is my article that was published on swol.co today:

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Following Manchester City’s latest trashing of Manchester United at Old Trafford, there were reports of continued revolt among Red Devil fans. Angry fans reportedly yelled expletives at the former United manager, Alex Ferguson as well as David Moyes, his handpicked successor.

Stadium stewards also had to be deployed to prevent supporters from tearing down a banner honouring Moyes as “The Chosen One.”

Although legendary retired manager of Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson is known for his great knowledge and intuition to make the best selection, it seems as if club fans do not approve of his handpicked successor.

Having been used to consecutive Championships and records under Ferguson, it is understandable why fans would revolt over David Moyes’ tenth loss of the season, including multiple losses against the top four sides and sitting uncomfortably at seventh spot in the standings.

However, those impatient fans need to review the history of their own club and realize even Alex Ferguson’s first season in charge during 1986 the club finished twelfth; a much lower spot than Moyes’ current seventh place. Back then, the 45-year-old Ferguson had on and off seasons with Manchester United, even on the verge of dismissal as they did not win a trophy in his first four seasons.

The point is, the reason Manchester United fans were lucky enough to enjoy 27 years of glory, records and achievements with Ferguson was thanks to the Club directors’ faith back in 1986 who did not dismiss him in his first disappointing season at Old Trafford.

David Moyes’ selection of substitutions is often surprising to many pundits, but no one can deny that Manchester United’s defenders are at their slowest and are having one of the most erroneous seasons of their careers. Although it was also evident last season under Ferguson; Evra and Ferdinand’s poor man-marking and faulty decision making, followed by Vidic’s injury-prone season, all have made Manchester United’s defensive options living hell for Moyes and heavenly opportunistic for opponents.

Those issues combined with a lackluster season by new arrival Marouane Fellaini, and former top scorer, Van Persie’s constant injuries, who missed two months of the season and is not set for another four to six weeks out have all resulted in Manchester United’s misery this season.

David Moyes may be sacked at the end of season, but managerial change may just be a facelift to a Manchester United team at a time that at squad level desperately needs an overhaul of its own.

Original article at http://swol.co/sacking-david-moyes-just-a-facelift-for-manchester-united/33612#ogApqtt7fXMkA0bo.99

Womenforfootball.com – It is embarrassing that I have not been able to update my blog in a month, but a lengthy vacation was the main reason for the delay.

As football fans witnessed yesterday, in Round of 16 of UEFA Champions League, where top European clubs are drawn against each other and play two-legged tie.

On Tuesday, yesterday, the second legged tie of Bayern Munich and Arsenal was held, and although the match ended with 1-1 draw, but Bayern Munich knocked out Arsenal in Aggregate score.

Here is my match report including Managers’ Reaction that was published on Soccer Without Limit:

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In a highly contested match-up, there were three missed penalties, one red carded goalkeeper and nine yellow cards exchanged between Arsenal and Bayern Munich in the two-legged tie. At the end though, Arsene Wenger’s consecutive Champions League experience with Arsenal was cut short by Pep Guardiola’s impressive Bayern Munich side.

Coming to the second leg match with 2-0 scoreline in favour of Bayern Munich, Arsenal squad had to put twice as much effort as last time to advance to Quarter Finals. Yet from the get go, it was evident that it was Bayern Munich squad who had more determination to win the match.

Bayern Munich’s penetration into Arsenal’s half backed off Gunners for the first 15 minutes of the match. Mertesacker’s defending error initiated the first chance for Bayern Munich in minute four, which was wasted by Bayern.
Read more at http://swol.co/bayern-munich-11-arsenal-manager-reaction-and-report/33348#hA8gpcOQIaUrZSs2.99

Bayern Munich’s penetration into Arsenal’s half backed off Gunners for the first 15 minutes of the match. Mertesacker’s defending error initiated the first chance for Bayern Munich in minute four, which was wasted by Bayern.

Best chance for Bayern though came thanks to Podolski’s foul play that handed a free-kick to Bavarians. Although the shot crossed past the goal line, assistant referee correctly called for offside.

The first chance for Arsenal came in minute 28 thanks to Chamberlain who proved to be best player of Arsenal squad. Thanks to his fast pace that forced foul play by Bayern defenders, Arsenal got their first free-kick that later got deflected off Cazorla.

Later into the First half, Alaba, Mandzukic and Robben all had their share of off target shots at Arsenal net, until Gotze aimed precisely at Arsenal net but Fabianski accurately saved the shot.

The first half ended 0-0, and at half time Wenger found out he would also lose Ozil due to his hamstring pains.

Fast paced Rosicky replaced Ozil in the second half. In minute 54, Bayern’s domination finally paid off when thanks to the huge gap in Arsenal’s central defense, Ribery sent a clinical pass to Schweinsteiger, the absentee from first leg match, and he wasted no chance by scoring the first goal of the match. It looked hopeless for Arsenal team, which were now falling behind 3-1 in aggregate. Yet Podolski quickly scored an equalizer only a minute later through a great strike.

Up to that point, according to the match statistics, Bayern Munich had four times as many passes between their players versus the Arsenal squad.

Bayern’s penetration continued to seal the deal and Robben did just that. Robben’s continued efforts in Arsenal’s box paid off through a slight push by Koscielny in minute 68, and referee called for a penalty kick. Muller stepped up to take the spot-kick, but Fabianski’s  brilliant save denied the goal.

Score-wise, the two teams remained even until the final whistle; So that Arsenal and Ozil in particular, dearly regret that penalty kick blunder in the first leg that could have been a life saver for the Gunners.

Overall though, the deserved team advanced to the quarterfinal as Arsenal, ironically did not have the expected sense of urgency to win this match at all cost. For that reason, Arsenal is the first English team that is knocked out of the elite Champions League competition this season.

 

Manager reaction:

Arsene Wenger conceded they were not sharp enough in this match: “Spirit-wise we gave everything until the end,” said Wenger. “Good luck to Bayern. They are a good side but I think they were more vulnerable this season than last year. I felt Bayern was very vulnerable defensively and that we didn’t take advantage of that. You could see they became suddenly nervous. They are a great side with great players but we still have regrets over the two games.

“The great regret we have is that in the last five years we played twice Barcelona and twice Bayern and every time when the teams are at the top of their game. I must say, in the last two years we were done very harsh.”

Pep Guardiola was content they were superior to Arsenal: “They were better for eight minutes in the first leg,” Guardiola told Sky Sport Germany. “For the rest of the time we were superior. Arsenal had no chances in the first half. They defended with many players and we controlled the match, except for the goal we conceded and that could have been a foul.“

“We had a 2-0 advantage from the first leg. We limited our mistakes and did not allow Arsenal any counter attacks. We played on a very high level and now we are in the quarterfinals.” 

Read more at http://swol.co/bayern-munich-11-arsenal-manager-reaction-and-report/33348#hA8gpcOQIaUrZSs2.99

Best chance for Bayern though came thanks to Podolski’s foul play that handed a free-kick to Bavarians. Although the shot crossed past the goal line, assistant referee correctly called for offside.

The first chance for Arsenal came in minute 28 thanks to Chamberlain who proved to be best player of Arsenal squad. Thanks to his fast pace that forced foul play by Bayern defenders, Arsenal got their first free-kick that later got deflected off Cazorla.

Later into the First half, Alaba, Mandzukic and Robben all had their share of off target shots at Arsenal net, until Gotze aimed precisely at Arsenal net but Fabianski accurately saved the shot.

The first half ended 0-0, and at half time Wenger found out he would also lose Ozil due to his hamstring pains.

Fast paced Rosicky replaced Ozil in the second half. In minute 54, Bayern’s domination finally paid off when thanks to the huge gap in Arsenal’s central defense, Ribery sent a clinical pass to Schweinsteiger, the absentee from first leg match, and he wasted no chance by scoring the first goal of the match. It looked hopeless for Arsenal team, which were now falling behind 3-1 in aggregate. Yet Podolski quickly scored an equalizer only a minute later through a great strike.

Up to that point, according to the match statistics, Bayern Munich had four times as many passes between their players versus the Arsenal squad.

Bayern’s penetration continued to seal the deal and Robben did just that. Robben’s continued efforts in Arsenal’s box paid off through a slight push by Koscielny in minute 68, and referee called for a penalty kick. Muller stepped up to take the spot-kick, but Fabianski’s  brilliant save denied the goal.

Score-wise, the two teams remained even until the final whistle; So that Arsenal and Ozil in particular, dearly regret that penalty kick blunder in the first leg that could have been a life saver for the Gunners.

Overall though, the deserved team advanced to the quarterfinal as Arsenal, ironically did not have the expected sense of urgency to win this match at all cost. For that reason, Arsenal is the first English team that is knocked out of the elite Champions League competition this season.

 

Manager reaction:

Arsene Wenger conceded they were not sharp enough in this match: “Spirit-wise we gave everything until the end,” said Wenger. “Good luck to Bayern. They are a good side but I think they were more vulnerable this season than last year. I felt Bayern was very vulnerable defensively and that we didn’t take advantage of that. You could see they became suddenly nervous. They are a great side with great players but we still have regrets over the two games.

“The great regret we have is that in the last five years we played twice Barcelona and twice Bayern and every time when the teams are at the top of their game. I must say, in the last two years we were done very harsh.”

Pep Guardiola was content they were superior to Arsenal: “They were better for eight minutes in the first leg,” Guardiola told Sky Sport Germany. “For the rest of the time we were superior. Arsenal had no chances in the first half. They defended with many players and we controlled the match, except for the goal we conceded and that could have been a foul.“

“We had a 2-0 advantage from the first leg. We limited our mistakes and did not allow Arsenal any counter attacks. We played on a very high level and now we are in the quarterfinals.” 

Read more at http://swol.co/bayern-munich-11-arsenal-manager-reaction-and-report/33348#hA8gpcOQIaUrZSs2.99

Bayern Munich’s penetration into Arsenal’s half backed off Gunners for the first 15 minutes of the match. Mertesacker’s defending error initiated the first chance for Bayern Munich in minute four, which was wasted by Bayern.
 
Best chance for Bayern though came thanks to Podolski’s foul play that handed a free-kick to Bavarians. Although the shot crossed past the goal line, assistant referee correctly called for offside.

The first chance for Arsenal came in minute 28 thanks to Chamberlain who proved to be best player of Arsenal squad. Thanks to his fast pace that forced foul play by Bayern defenders, Arsenal got their first free-kick that later got deflected off Cazorla.

Later into the First half, Alaba, Mandzukic and Robben all had their share of off target shots at Arsenal net, until Gotze aimed precisely at Arsenal net but Fabianski accurately saved the shot.

The first half ended 0-0, and at half time Wenger found out he would also lose Ozil due to his hamstring pains.

Fast paced Rosicky replaced Ozil in the second half. In minute 54, Bayern’s domination finally paid off when thanks to the huge gap in Arsenal’s central defense, Ribery sent a clinical pass to Schweinsteiger, the absentee from first leg match, and he wasted no chance by scoring the first goal of the match. It looked hopeless for Arsenal team, which were now falling behind 3-1 in aggregate. Yet Podolski quickly scored an equalizer only a minute later through a great strike.

Up to that point, according to the match statistics, Bayern Munich had four times as many passes between their players versus the Arsenal squad.

Bayern’s penetration continued to seal the deal and Robben did just that. Robben’s continued efforts in Arsenal’s box paid off through a slight push by Koscielny in minute 68, and referee called for a penalty kick. Muller stepped up to take the spot-kick, but Fabianski’s  brilliant save denied the goal.

Score-wise, the two teams remained even until the final whistle; So that Arsenal and Ozil in particular, dearly regret that penalty kick blunder in the first leg that could have been a life saver for the Gunners.

Overall though, the deserved team advanced to the quarterfinal as Arsenal, ironically did not have the expected sense of urgency to win this match at all cost. For that reason, Arsenal is the first English team that is knocked out of the elite Champions League competition this season.

 Manager reaction:

Arsene Wenger conceded they were not sharp enough in this match: “Spirit-wise we gave everything until the end,” said Wenger. “Good luck to Bayern. They are a good side but I think they were more vulnerable this season than last year. I felt Bayern was very vulnerable defensively and that we didn’t take advantage of that. You could see they became suddenly nervous. They are a great side with great players but we still have regrets over the two games.

“The great regret we have is that in the last five years we played twice Barcelona and twice Bayern and every time when the teams are at the top of their game. I must say, in the last two years we were done very harsh.”

Pep Guardiola was content they were superior to Arsenal: “They were better for eight minutes in the first leg,” Guardiola told Sky Sport Germany. “For the rest of the time we were superior. Arsenal had no chances in the first half. They defended with many players and we controlled the match, except for the goal we conceded and that could have been a foul.“

“We had a 2-0 advantage from the first leg. We limited our mistakes and did not allow Arsenal any counter attacks. We played on a very high level and now we are in the quarterfinals.” 

Original article:

http://swol.co/bayern-munich-11-arsenal-manager-reaction-and-report/33348

 

Womenforfootball.com- As soon as this hot news broke the headlines this week, it shook English Football this week. It is expected that English Football League and Chelsea would be scrutinized by UEFA over these allegations.

Here is article about this news, which was posted on SWOL this week:

In one of the best investigative football journalism,  The Guardian just released a report today that links Chelsea club’s to third-party ownership of players, including co-ownership with Jose Mourinho’s agent.

Just as Match-fixing is not yet cleaned up in world of Football, despite UEFA and FIFA’s dislike, third-party ownership of players in Europe is still in practice it seems.

“Third-party ownership” of footballers by Premier League was banned in 2006, after controversial transfer of third-party owned Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano to West Ham. Soon after the revelations, UEFA banned “third-party influence on clubs’ employment and transfers”, yet third-party investment is still legal in Europe.

A recent example of this shady business is Barcelona President’s transfer deal between FC Barcelona, Neymar, Neymar’s agent and Neymar’s third-party owner in Brazil,N&N, which is owned by Neymar’s father and left player’s old club Santos at clear disadvantage for just receiving €17.1M. Not to mention, FC Barcelona deliberately announced a diminished version of Neymar’s transfer costs at  €57.1 while the total cost, later admitted by Barcelona officials at Court was €86.2m.

A report in August by the consultants KPMG found that staggering 27%-36% of the players in Portugal’s Primeira Liga are owned by third-party investors, and the practice has “greatly increased” in Spain, particularly at financially struggling clubs. Such clubs argue that selling a share in a player to investors brings money up front and enables them to keep the player for longer, before sharing the proceeds with the investors when the player leaves.

That points us to Chelsea’s links to third-party ownership of players.  In case the Guardian Report sounds complicated-because shady business and explanation of its purpose is not meant to be simple after all- here are summary of new findings:

- Chelsea have set up funds in tax havens that are about “sports investments”.
- Co-operation and co-ownership with Jose Mourinho’s agent, Jorge Mendes.
- In practice these funds buy economic rights in players, i.e. third-party ownership deals, in territories where third-party ownership is allowed (in England it is not).

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How these benefit Chelsea:

1. Share of the transfer fee if a player they partly own is sold (all of his rights). For example, it appears that when Norwich bought Van Wolfsvinkel, Chelsea got part of the transfer fee because they had bought 50% of his rights.

2. Capability to buy such players cheaper to Chelsea. If they already own 50% of a player coming to Chelsea and the transfer fee would really be 10m, they have to pay only 5m.

3. Capability to prevent the sale of players they partially own, in some cases.

he fact that struck me most was that two of the “sport investment” firms associated with Chelsea Club’s third-party ownership of players, are originally based out of New York and Los Angeles. Two investment firms that have no experience in football management, but can raise capital to own a football player in Europe partially or 100% and would trade those players like equity market stocks: Trading the player to another club when there is a huge profit for the investment firm, and refusing to trade, when the competing firms or clubs are bidding on the player.

If this is the way beautiful world of football is headed, we may need to wish for a Market Crash so that only valuable assets; talented players and financially-viable clubs in this case, remain on the pitch.

Originally posted on: http://swol.co/chelsea–jose-mourinho-probed-in-thirdparty-ownership-of-players/32645

As you have heard already, FC Barcelona’s President, Rosell, quit immediately after his signing of Neymar was questioned in court. It turns out, through this transfer, he put Santos, Neymar’s club at clear disadvantage, while paying millions of Euros to third-parties, including Neymar’s father’s company, N&N, which actually cost FC Barcelona a record cost of €87.2M, and not €57.1 as stated all along.

Here is an excellent article by Sid Lowe, my favourite football Journalist at Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/jan/27/barcelona-neymar-sandro-rosell

Sid Lowe-

How Neymar’s arrival turned from triumph to disaster for Sandro Rosell

Barcelona’s president resigned having been undone by silence and complex sums concerning the Brazil striker’s signing

Pride goes before destruction. Signing Neymar should have been Sandro Rosell’s greatest triumph; instead it has been his downfall. The arrival of the Brazil striker will indeed define his presidency at Barcelona, just not in the way that he wanted. “We’re proud of signing Neymar but now it seems as if we have to apologise for it,” the new Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, said on Monday morning. No one has apologised for it but Rosell did resign, walking away defeated and damaged, his departure largely unlamented. In three and am half years he never truly emerged from the shadows. He could not escape familiar foes, familiar fears and familiar phobias. He could not escape himself.

Under Rosell, Barcelona won the league, the Copa del Rey and the World Club Cup. They won the European Cup, too, the fourth in their history but somehow those trophies didn’t feel like they were his. Neymar was. The Brazilian arrived from Santos the undisputed star of the Confederations Cup and thousands gathered at the Camp Nou to watch him be presented. Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Pérez, admitted that he had tried to sign Neymar but here he was in Barcelona. The glossy dossier Madrid prepared made no difference and nor did the salary. Barcelona’s victory was all the more complete for the identity of the vanquished.

Rosell had moved fast. He is close to Ricardo Teixeira, the former president of the Brazilian FA, and Rosell’s contacts in Brazil had proved decisive. Neymar had been his from the start. This was his moment. The day after the signing was made official, the cover and the first seven pages of one paper carried headlines that essentially said the same thing: “Triple goal against Madrid,” “Sandro Rosell’s success is another defeat for Florentino,” and: “Rosell whacks one into the top corner of Florentino’s net.” And that was in Sport. Over at El Mundo Deportivo, where Rosell’s greatest allies reside, they celebrated even more effusively. Their man had done it.

At €57.1m, Neymar was cheap too. The problem was that it turned out that he was not cheap at all. It also turned out, of course, that he might not have been €57.1m either. Victory became defeat, and fast. Back in the summer, Rosell was presented as the winner in the Madrid newspaper AS. Galácticos no longer go to Madrid, Alfredo Relaño wrote; this was a “stain on Florentino’s suit”. It proved to be a stain on Rosell’s. It need not have been such a big one but his attempts to wash it off, when he tried at all, were so clumsy that they made it grow, bigger and bigger and bigger until the suit could barely be seen, just the stain.

The real cost, the newspaper El Mundo insisted last week, was €95m. By then, the public prosecutor had written a report saying there were grounds to suspect “simulated contracts”, and the judge had accepted his request to take on the case.

The more they asked, the bigger the stain grew. On Monday, Rosell was asked again and again and evaded the question again and again. Eventually, he snapped. “The cost was €57.1m, y punto.”€57.1m, full stop. On Friday, Barcelona’s new president laid out the figures. The total cost, if not the actual transfer fee, was more than €86.2m. For Rosell, it was too late; he’d resigned the day before, citing “unfair attacks”. He mentioned, too, the threats, from phone calls to air rifles. Maybe if he had talked about the full cost instead, he might never have reached this point. That he didn’t was an eloquent comment on the communication breakdown that has characterised his presidency. It was about the only eloquent comment there has been.

Rosell departed bemoaning the “jealousy” of Barcelona’s rivals; now Bartomeu talks about a public prosecutor that’s “not one of ours” and that the “campaign from Madrid” is the stock-in-trade of the media.

Just because you’re paranoid does not mean they’re not out to get you. El Mundo’s piece was written by Eduardo Inda, the former editor or Marca whose exposé forced the resignation of the former president Ramón Calderón and pathed the way for Pérez to return at Real. There was something a little convenient in their calculations reaching €95m and something more than a little forced in the declaration that Neymar was in fact the most expensive transfer in history, applying a broad definition of “transfer fee” which included agents’ fees, signing-on bonuses and other payments not normally considered part of the transfer fee itself.

Equally, while Barcelona’s claim that the €57.1m was analysed, it did not escape the attention of Barcelona fans that Real have not offered up an official fee for Gareth Bale and the figures they have filtered (£78m, conveniently £2m less than was paid for Cristiano Ronaldo) differ from those that other well-placed sources insist on.

Yet this did not start with Madrid; it started with a pharmacist from Esparreguera, a Barcelona soci by the name of Jordi Cases who demanded that the club clarify where the €57.1m had really gone, and there are doubts about the way the money has been spent. There are doubts about Rosell. Rivals might have seen their chance to help topple him but those rivals were not just in the capital but in Catalonia, too. And Rosell put it on a plate for them. His downfall is of his making.

According to Barcelona, they paid €57.1m in transfer fee, €17.1m to Santos and €40m to a company called N&N, owned by Neymar’s father who held the player’s economic rights. It was that money that Cases wanted clarified. In Barcelona’s accounts, the €40m is registered as a “penalty clause” between the parties, one that refers to an undertaking that they would sign Neymar rather than that they had, even if it essentially amounts to the same thing; the total was be payable on completion.

The €17.1m was the money paid to Santos to sign Neymar, whose contract was due to expire in 2014 anyway. Of that money, Santos were due to receive 55%, while two other companies, SONDA and TEISA, would receive 40% and 5% respectively. Then there were other payments, which Barcelona have now outlined in the wake of Rosell’s departure: a further €2m payable to Santos if Neymar made the Ballon d’Or podium, €2.6m in agent’s commission, €10m signing on fee, €7.9m on a collaboration with Santos (an option on Santos players), €4m in marketing for Neymar’s father in seeking out sponsors etc over five years, €2.5m to Neymar’s charitable foundation and two friendlies which Barcelona say have a value of zero but El Mundo claimed were worth €9m. Then there’s €44m in salary, at €8,8m a year – not an especially huge figure.

Not including salary, Barcelona admitted to the €86.2m total cost.

It is not unusual to break up a contract but this is especially complex. There are doubts and huge questions. Such as: What does the collaboration with Santos entail? How realistic is €7.9m for that collaboration? What are the friendlies for? What will Neymar Sr’s marketing and scouting role entail? And what about the agent fee? And are those payments separate from the Neymar deal? Does the €40m to N&N go directly and solely to Neymar’s father? Is he really going to get as much from this deal as the player? Or is this a way of indirectly paying Neymar more, without his salary formally challenging that of Lionel Messi? Or instead a way of indirectly paying him more without being taxed at 56%? Where is the money paid to N&N taxed and at what rate? Why is it defined as a penalty, not a transfer fee? It is here that the public prosecutor expressed doubts at the definition of the payments.

Who stands to benefit from a deal that is fragmented? Because Santos did not own 100% of Neymar’s rights, the money they received then had to be divided up among their Brazilian partners. Does that explain why it suits them to be paid for a separate collaboration rather than receiving a bigger transfer fee? A collaboration would not be shared; a transfer fee would. Just as any profit from a friendly would be entirely theirs, not shared among those who owned Neymar’s rights.

€57.1m is a bit over half of what Real paid for Bale. Is that the point? Did Barcelona want to make their victory greater? Did Rosell? Did the idea of some kind of moral superiority seduce them? Tata Martino had described the fee for Bale as a “lack of respect to the world”. That position would have been harder to maintain had they said €86.2m. “One cost 50 or so, the other 100,” Martino said recently.

Unless the court finds otherwise, unless the judge declares that some of the other payments in fact amount to hidden transfer fees (or hidden wages), Barcelona can continue to insist on a €57.1m fee. They maintain that here is nothing illegal about the transfer and, looking at the figures, that stance looks reasonably sound. But why not explain before? Andoni Zubizarreta, the sporting director, had a point when he said it is rare for any club to outline a transfer like this and it will be hard to demonstrate that the other payments are not, as they insist, for different things. “Negotiating engineering”, as Rosell called it, is not unusual. But the wait, the evasive responses, the talk of confidentiality clauses, has cost him his presidency.

Cases has now withdrawn his complaint and Barcelona have outlined the costs but it is too late. The courts will proceed and Rosell has gone. The doubts have not. Reports have also linked him to a corruption scandal in Brazil. Had Barcelona responded to Cases in the first place, it may never have got this far. He went to the courts because the club ignored him. Now a pharmacist from a small town has brought down the president. A pharmacist from a small town who – and there is something commendable about this – wanted to know the truth. A pharmacist from a small town, and it is hard not to suspect – and there may be something a little less commendable about this – who was encouraged to keep up the pursuit.

In the end, Cases caught his prey. “My work is done,” he said. Many were pleased. Ultimately, Rosell will not be missed. He was the most voted-for president in Barcelona’s history but somehow he didn’t convince. He had four directors of communication but rarely communicated well. There was something that just didn’t sit right – rigid, cold, unnatural, he didn’t inspire confidence or transmit feeling; the good was forgotten, the bad lingered.

Rosell’s Barcelona credentials are unquestionable: he had been a club ballboy and his father was a director, the man who smashed the obligatory bust of Franco on the day the dictator died, but he never quite seemed to “get” Barcelona. He will be remembered as the man who sold Eric Abidal and sold the shirt to Qatar Airways. The man who fell out with Johan Cruyff, Pep Guardiola and even Messi. He was a man who lacked the charisma and charm, the approachability and popularity of Joan Laporta, the former president and his rival who he so resented and whose shadow he could never escape.

When at last he did, he did so by signing Neymar. It was supposed to be the start of Rosell’s era. It was the end. It cost him more than he could ever imagine and more than he would ever say.

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