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Joan Laporta and Txiki Begiristain: Dumb and Dumber?

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 25: FC Barcelona's president Joan Laporta looks on during the Thierry Henry press conference to announce his signing with FC Barcelona, on June 25, 2007, in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Bagu Blanco/Getty Images).
Anurag BhattCorrespondent IJuly 12, 2009

Pep Guardiola has already made it clear—he wants four new faces to cope with the strain of contesting six trophies next season.

Over the course of this transfer summer, Barcelona have been strongly linked with a number of players—Filipe Luis, Javier Mascherano, David Villa, Cesc Fabregas, Diego Forlan, Andre Santos, Keirrison and Yuri Zhirkov. Approaches have also been made for Filipe, Villa, and Mascherano.

Yet, not a single player has been signed. In fact Barcelona is one of only two clubs in the Spanish first division that have not completed a single signing. 

And instead of making efforts to make signings, all we see Joan Laporta and Txiki Begiristain doing is making outrageous comments all the time.

Laporta has done nothing but criticise Real Madrid's spending throughout this summer. Yes, he has a valid point and Real have overspent, but that does not justify his continuous rants of, "Real Madrid buy champions while Barcelona make them." These comments make the entire Barcelona camp look jealous of Real Madrid and do nothing to set things right.

He has also been ineffective to say the least when it has come to negotiating deals. In the case of Filipe, he has made the entire Barcelona management look extremely stupid.

Confronted with a ruthless negotiator in Deportivo president Lendoiro, Laporta has practically fallen apart and has recently set a third "deadline" to complete the transfer. One may ask, isn't a deadline supposed to be set once and then adhered to?

What Laporta's actions so far in the Filipe case have done is make it clear that Barcelona are desperate to sign a new left back, and have thus caused the ball to land firmly in Deportivo's court. Do not be surprised if this deal does not go through, or if Barcelona are made to fork out a ridiculous sum for Filipe's services.

David Villa's transfer saga seems almost as never-ending as that of Cristiano Ronaldo the previous year. And it is also an ominous reminder that Real Madrid, having spent the entire summer pursuing him, were not able to make satisfactory reinforcements to their squad. The same could happen to Barcelona as well.

Another extremely stupid plan is to buy Diego Forlan. He may be a two time Pichichi winner, but at the age of 30, there is not much more he can offer to the club. And to talk of paying his buyout clause is ridiculous—36 million euros for such an old player? It would be better to spend 60 million to buy Sergio Aguero from Atletico Madrid.

Dawdling and ineffectiveness have also caused Barcelona to lose out on securing the services of Yuri Zhirkov, who had made it very clear that Barcelona were the club he would love to play for.

Capping off this show of ineptitude is Laporta's handling of the Eto'o saga. He has made it very clear that Eto'o is unwanted at the Camp Nou.

In a press conference called by Eto'o's agent Mesalles, it was revealed that the board had made a last minute contract offer in order to patch up their relations. Needless to say, Eto'o rejected the deal, and has already said he will be looking for pastures new next season.

Txiki Begiristain is no less culpable for continuously changing the amount of money Barcelona have at their disposal. From an initial sum of 30 million euros, he has spiralled Barcelona's budget to 60-80 million euros, once again showing desperation on the part of the board.

It is hard to believe that just a year ago, these same men had made the brilliant signings of Gerard Pique, Daniel Alves, and Seydou Keita. It is obvious that unless Laporta and Begiristain keep shut about their rivals and get down to making some necessary reinforcements, Barcelona could be in for a very rough 2009-10 season

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