Wednesday’s news that Barcelona approached Liverpool striker Luis Suarez before the World Cup surprised nobody.
Indeed, I knew that the Chiellini biting apology was orchestrated by Barcelona as a pre-condition of his Suarez’s arrival there.
His agent, Pere Guardiola, is Pep’s brother.
Given what had been happening with Leo Messi, Barcelona needed a hot centre forward.
Sometimes, too often perhaps, I enjoy the ruthlessness of big clubs like Barcelona, where they make sure they’re ahead of the game.
Barcelona and Real Madrid are tough because of each other.
Your rival makes you stronger and more relentless.Their daily mission is to compete with each other and that’s what makes their acquisition process so fierce.
Barcelona have to be fearless because they have a proud legacy to protect and ongoing annual ambitions and targets.
They create their own culture and produce their own players, but also acquire expensive foreign stars like Cruyff, Romario, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Neymar.
The Alexis Sanchez story started with Lionel Messi.
When Messi learned that Neymar earned more than him, he went in to renegotiate his contract, just six months after signing a new one.
He was told to “Fuck off!”
Furious, Messi wanted to leave but soon realised that very few clubs could afford his buy-out clause: 250 million euros.
PSG are very rich but Paris was not really an option because Ligue 1 is big step down from La Liga and French tax is now 75%. The Qatari owners could pay the buy-out clause but not the salary. He did not fancy going to Monaco just for its tax-exempt status.
In Germany only Bayern Munich could afford the transfer fee and Bayern were now coached by Pep Guardiola. His relationship with the demanding Pep had become strained towards the end of the four seasons of success they enjoyed together.
Russia was not a prospect Messi’s family would relish, so England was the only remaining option.
Wives and girlfriends often don’t fancy Manchester, so it had to be a London club.
Jose Mourinho’s style of play at Chelsea did not appeal and it began to be obvious that Arsenal, who had no superstar to compete with him, was the solution.
Messi asked his close friend Cesc about the club and got Wenger’s mobile number from Darren Dein. They contacted Wenger, whose initial reaction was disbelief: he thought it was a wind-up.
Then the manager said : We can’t afford him.
But Ivan Gazidis said: Let me deal with the financial side.
At that stage, the Messi deal was totally under the radar and almost nobody knew that Messi wanted to leave the club he\d joined at the age of 13.
Those plans changed dramatically when the Qataris, Barcelona’s biggest sponsors, found out that Messi was on the move.
The Qataris apparently gave Barcelona an ultimatum : pay Messi whatever he wants or we walk.
The board was forced to give Messi a big salary hike that was retrospective. And the directors also had to concede a bigger percentage of the revenue from his image rights.
This colossal outlay on one player\’s wages caused a serious cash issue because players are paid twice a year and the Spanish banks would not extend the club\’s line of credit, so the board had to go to some of the players and ask them to renegotiate their contracts for less money.
Fabregas refused because he was already earning less than he was on at Arsenal. Feeling angry and insulted, and with his girlfriend Daniella and baby daughter living in London, Fabregas told the board that he was going to re-join Arsenal.
That scenario would have really suited Fab4 and Barca.
But Wenger didn’t want Fabregas, so Barcelona would still have to pay off all the remaining instalments on a Catalan kid they’d brought home in August 2011.
Luis Suarez was Barcelona’s prime target but they needed to sell to buy.
Knowing that Suarez was coming replace him, Alexis Sanchez had decided to join Juventus in Serie A, where he had previously played for Udinese.
But when Juventus could only pay in instalments, Barcelona became very anxious and decided to tell Arsenal that Sanchez was available.
During the World Cup, Arsene Wenger convinced the Chile star that he would not play second fiddle to anybody if he signed for Arsenal on a higher salary than Juventus had offered. After meeting Wenger, Alexis then reneged on his verbal agreement with Juventus.
Sometimes the transfer merry-go-round works like that : the biggest stars run out of options.
When you’re up in the stratosphere like Cristiano Ronaldo, and you’ve played for Manchester United and Real Madrid, where are you gonna go?
Of course, every big transfer is slightly different, and while Chile’s best footballer has been signed because of Wenger’s intervention in Brazil, the switch was set in motion by the astronomical wage demands of the Messi family and the dictates of the Qatari sponsors.
Bottom line this summer?
Alexis Sanchez is an exceptionally gifted and rugged footballer who can scrap, sprint, create and finish.
Crucially, we now know that Wenger sat down with Alexis and promised to make him Arsenal’s main man.
In today’s football, the biggest stars are the players who score the goals, so the Arsenal team must be re-configured to create chances for their new South American samurai.
Right now, Arsenal’s new warrior just wants to score his first goal. Then, as soon as possible, he wants to score his second goal.
My best guess?
When Ozil gets off that stage in Las Vegas, Alexis will be flying.
7th August 2014