In the midst of a tight title race, Barcelona seems to be eager for greater separation from Madrid come next season. If preliminary reports out of Spain are to be believed, then the biggest transfer of the summer is complete and David Villa will soon don the blaugrana. Heading southwest in the opposite direction could be Barca attackers Bojan Krkic and Alex Hleb and duffel bags packed with a cool 40 million euros.
It would be a move in response to a similar one that backfired last year: bringing in Zlatan Ibrahimovic in exchange for 46m euros and Samuel Eto’o, who on Wednesday celebrated reaching the Champions League final with Inter Milan at the expense of a misfiring Barca. But this time around, Barca shouldn’t be victim to a jack move of such epic proportions. Despite being 28 (aging by soccer standards), Villa’s worth every euro, putting up numbers that justifiably rank him as one of the continent’s best strikers for the better part of a decade now.
Since the onset of Valencia’s financial collapse a few years ago, talk of the club’s most valuable asset moving to Madrid, Manchester, Barcelona, or London has been rife. Not coincidentally, on the heels of this also comes the news that Argentine international and Atlético Madrid striker Kun Aguero will trade the rojiblanco for Chelsea blue. Atlético is set to collect their own king’s ransom of 40 million euros.
A few weeks ago, Chelsea, like Barca, was expected to run away with its respective league. However, Manchester is once again breathing down its neck, thus, the need to splurge. All of this shopping before the season has even ended serves to highlight a year of tight competition across the continent. Photo finishes also look likely in Italy (Inter leads Roma by 2 points), Germany (Bayern Munich and Schalke are tied), and Holland (a point separates FC Twente and Ajax).
Another theme has been the confounding twists. Liverpool will probably finish seventh in the EPL. Tottenham will probably (finally) qualify for the Champions League. Fulham could win a European cup. Auxerre has an outside chance at the French title. Franck Ribery might end up in jail. Celtic imploded. And the list goes on.
Our coverage alone has reflected the topsy-turvy nature of the current campaign, from warning of Manchester United’s debt-ridden downfall to hailing Rooney as the world’s best to later rightfully giving Messi and his colleagues the throne to then reporting Barca’s need for sweeping change here.
Come the season’s culmination on May 22nd in Madrid when Bayern and Inter contest the Champions League final, conventional wisdom suggests that Inter will win decisively. Thus, no predictions here.