Signing Chelsea Legend Drogba Would Be A Betrayal Of All Barcelona's Beliefs
Twitter is full of ridiculous transfer rumours, yet yesterday’s trending claim that Didier Drogba was set to sign for Barcelona was perhaps the most outlandish to date. Startlingly, however, the rumour was given real credence by reputable journalists such as Guillem Balague. Yet this still just didn’t seam plausible. It felt like a transfer only possible on FIFA ’12, too far-fetched even for Football Manager.
If you can’t beat them, join them. Or, to be more precise, if you can’t beat him, get him to join you. Could this be the transfer policy of new Barça boss Tito Vilanova after the Champions League exit to Drogba and Chelsea? Over the two-legs Drogba demonstrated to Barcelona some basic qualities they were clearly missing; clinical finishing and physical prowess in the box. Barcelona would have undoubtedly benefited from a more advanced forward in that Chelsea tie, if only to take some of the slack off Messi, yet a move for Drogba would be incredibly short-sighted for a club that has eternally built for the long-term.
Barça came to dominate club football through their advanced youth development and innovative tactical approach. They must do the same again, not by signing elderly superstars on massive wages.
It was not just with Pep Guardiola that Barcelona blended youth into their team. It has been the case ever since Johan Cruyff imprinted his vision of the “dream team” on the club in the 1980s. Every level of the club, from the 10-year olds to the first team, were implemented with the same philosophy. Their academy, La Masia, was set up and has since gone on to become one of the most fruitful in the world. Barcelona’s success have come as a direct result of their fantastic production line, champions such as Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Pique, Puyol and Busquets were indoctrinated with Barca’s belief at a young age. Barcelona have the most identifiable footballing philosophy in the world. Philosophy being the correct word as Barça’s outlook transcends results and finance based success. It is about beauty, unity and enjoyment, abstract values that cannot be determined on a scoreboard or spreadsheet.
To sign a creaking Didier Drogba would be an incredibly retrograde step for the Catalan giants. After finally winning the Champions League, there is no further achievement that Drogba craves. He has signaled as much by appearing to be willing to move to an uncompetitive league in China for a healthy pay-packet. Yet Barcelona’s players must always be hungry, always willing to give everything, it is the only way their system can work.
Furthermore, it would be a defeatist move, giving into the short-sighted calls that they need a plan b, or “a big man up top.” What happened to Barcelona against Chelsea was unfortunate but nothing more. The Barcelona philosophy slipped up but remains far away from being broken. Barça came to dominate club football through their advanced youth development and innovative tactical approach. They must do the same again, not by signing elderly superstars on massive wages. David Winner, author of the essential text on Dutch football Brilliant Oranje, wrote in the Guardian earlier this year that Barcelona are reminiscent of the Christian faith. Guardiola is the preacher espousing the salvation that was brought to us in the Gospel of Johan Cruyff. If this is the case, a move for Drogba would be nothing short of sacrilege.
Barça remain an inspiration because of their stubborn refusal to fall in the like rest, it would be a sad sight to see them do so.
Tito Vilanova should be aware of this more than anyone. The manager is a disciple of the Barcelona way, having received a playing education at La Masia before assisting Guardiola towards unprecedented amounts of silverware and success. During the course of their four years together one of the most admirable aspects of their achievements was the ability to solely depend on technique and fitness. Brute strength and physicality were made to look like attributes of cavemen. How refreshing it was to see Barcelona confirm once and for all to the world that being “too slight” and “lightweight” to play football was an utter fallacy.
It is likely that a day will pass and all talk of such a move will subside. Despite the obvious intrigue that the prospect of Drogba at the Nou Camp holds, I for one am hoping it does not come true. Barça remain an inspiration because of their stubborn refusal to fall in the like rest, it would be a sad sight to see them do so.
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