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Posted by Isaiah Cambron on 07/22/2011

The wait, that arduous wait for a major Barça signing, is over. I was able to relax this summer thanks to the seemingly endless rumours flowing through Twitter and the daily sports rags—and yes, I'm pretty impervious to Cesc Fabregas rumours—but now my holiday is over and it's time to welcome Barça's first ever Chilean signing.

Benvingut Alexis Sánchez, a 22-year old winger slash all-purpose player capable, if his Copa America performances are anything to go by, of filling gaps in the front five. His transfer fee is a €26m deal with an additional €11.5m in performance-based variables while the contract itself is a five-year deal.

He’ll play on the wing, in the middle, and up front, but he’ll also get back on defence. At times during Chile’s recent match with Venezuela, he played almost too much defence in a desperate attempt to get the ball back and score the equalizing goal. His tenacity was remarkable and at one point he raced from Venezuela’s box back to just outside his own to thwart a vinotinto attack. Unfortunately he was therefore out of position for the counterattack. It’s hard to fault him, however, for making up for his teammates’ own lack of positional discipline. There will be moments, no doubt, when his Barça teammates require him to dash in to cover some breakaway and we’ll all sing his praises if he pulls a Mascherano and keeps Bendtner from dashing our Champions League hopes in the final minute.

Whatever your thoughts about him, he’s most assuredly not a regular goal scorer. He scored 12 in Serie A this year, 4 of them in a single game, but has only scored 21 at Udinese in 3 years and 50 some in his whole career. There are players who would envy such numbers, but few attackers would; judging from comments around the internet, there is a significant number of cules who believe, like they believed with Ibrahimovic and Villa before him, that Alexis will score 30+ goals in his first year. You can put it out of your mind because it won’t happen. Certainly not in the first year and I’d bet not at all in his career.

Interestingly, according to Opta, Sánchez received the most fouls of any player in Serie A last year: 115. Generally this shows a willingness to take on players and the gifts to beat them and force them into bad tackles, which is good. He’s certainly fast - or perhaps he should be described as “quick” instead - and he’s got good dribbling skills, which should make his wing play effective. He’ll get plenty of games, especially with Bojan heading to Roma on a 2-year deal (more on that at the bottom of this column), but he shouldn’t be considered a starter from the beginning. He has to earn his place in the system through the kind of hard work that got him where he is.

I’ve previously called the signing a classic case of Barça over-paying and I stand by that assessment, but I do not believe there was any other way to get Sánchez if, indeed, Guardiola was hell-bent on getting him. I should also note that “overpaying” is a very subjective statement and it depends on what you consider the real value of a player (“whatever the market dictates is the real value of a player” is one way to look at it) and how you adapt to changing policies, inflation, and the rise of the global game. It would be a mistake to compare the transfer fees of 2 players from different years - is Alexis Sánchez 3 times the player that Yaya Touré was in 2008? Or is he just 1.1 times the player Touré was in 2010? If we end up paying all €37.5m for Sánchez, is he really a more valuable player than Dani Alves, who came in for €32m?

I’m not sure which squad number Sánchez will occupy, but the 9 is free thanks to Bojan’s glorified loan move to Roma that brings in €12m for Barça. What I mean is, Bojan goes to Roma while Roma loans us €12m; there is a buy-back clause of €13m that must be enacted in 2013 unless Roma stumps up €40m for Bojan (or, effectively €28m on top of the 12 they have already loaned to Barça). No matter what happens in the next two years with the little guy - and I hope great things happen for him - I sincerely doubt that Roma will exercise that option. And if they do, he’ll have to be worth it and we’ll be losing out on a fantastic player.

Would the perfect situation be that Bojan gets good enough to be worth €25m or so but not €28m and so Roma forgoes their option and we get a 22-year old €25m rated player back for, effectively, €1m? You could call it €13m and it’s still a great deal. Good luck to you, Bojan! Score some goals, win some trophies, etc. Just not against us.

Welcome Alexis and goodbye Bojan. It is not the dawning of a new era, but it is certainly the dawning of a new season and it’s just about time to get really, really excited.

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Posted by RCS on 07/23/2011

I read somewhere that even after the second year, Roma would still hold a portion of Bojan's image and sporting rights even if he is sold back to Barcelona. Is this true ?

Posted by Mike on 07/23/2011

Contract situation with Bojan is complicated, but you explained it better than most. It will not be added to the transfer funds which is too bad, but hopefully Jeffren gets sold and that money will. Also, hopefully we will be in better financial shape by the time Bojan returns. As you said, not likely that Roma will pay that much to keep him. Only he is among the top three or four scorers in the Serie A the next two seasons. Anyways, Alexis Sanchez should do great for Barcelona. I think this was one of the signings they needed to make happen.

Posted by outerspacedout on 07/24/2011

Not even 28mil, Isaiah. For Roma to pay up they would have to consider keeping Bojan worth more than 41 million in cash.

To keep Bojan they would have to pay the initial 12mil after all, NOT get the 13mil from Barcelona, AND pay the 28mil on top. So by selling him they would get 13mil in hand + 28 million they could save (or 1mil in hand + 40mil they could save to spend elsewhere, depends on how you look at it).

But yeah, if Bojan becomes a 30mil player and Roma decide to spend 41mil elsewhere, we essentially get him back for only 1mil. That would be a great scenario. If he becomes amazing then Roma get to keep him and we lose out but oh well, 40mil in cash is still great. And if he flops, we get him back for a net spend of 1mil (while saving on his wages for two years) and are stuck with him.

Posted by FunsoFx on 07/25/2011

I think Alexis' bursts of acceleration, dribbling+ underrated passing ability will make up for his tame goal-scoring.

I have to say, I'm glad to see the back of Bojan: not fast enough nor twinkle-toed, nor big, nor blessed with great vision. A decent striker for a 4-4-2 is all he'll ever be (La Masia pedigree not withstanding).

Now all we need is a young, fairly tall, left-footed defender and we can take on ALL that Rotten Real have to offer in 2011/2012!!

Posted by FunsoFx on 07/25/2011

...Oh and before someone shouts "Andreu Fontas" I should have added "pacey" to requirements for that extra defender! :)

Posted by jdfe on 07/28/2011

i think Guardiola is banking on the hope that Sanchez will become a better goal-scorer. He certainly has the tools for it, and at 22 I'll wait a little longer before making such conclusions.

Posted by CanadaGP on 07/28/2011

I am more optimistic than Isaiah over Alexis' long-term goalscoring potential. Remember that Serie A is the most defensive minded league in the world and La Liga defenses will not be as tough, and Alexis will get better service in Barca than he has ever had. Also, he has stated that it is his goal to be a much better goal scorer. Once he gets the minutes, which I think won't happen until 2012-2013 season, he'll be at least as prolific as Villa and Pedro, and potentially more in 5 years.

Posted by Paul ejuwa on 07/29/2011

My comment is dat almighty barcelona will become a champion aleixs san

Posted by bigo1723 on 08/01/2011

You guys need more players like Marilyn Monroe needed a boob job.

Posted by Joan on 08/02/2011

wrong bigo, depth is an issue

Posted by Yakson on 08/02/2011

Alexis is good player will need him so much,becouse i like the way he play and his a nice guy,and he very qurety will need.up barcá for life.Alexis is good player will need him so much,becouse i like the way he play and his a nice guy,and he very qurety will need.up barcá for life.

Posted by TheGreatOne on 08/03/2011

I can see Alexis making a name for himself at Barça, he looks ambitious. I think Barça is at the point where most of the players have won EVERYTHING there is to win, it must be hard for Guardiola to inspire his players, and Alexis is just the perfect tool to do that, push Villa and Pedro, fight for a spot and have lots of energy when he does have minutes.

Posted by paul on 08/04/2011

i tink barca should leave fabrigas since they have got thiago

Posted by bigo1723 on 08/04/2011

I stand corrected. I watched the Barca-Chivas friendly last night, and you're right: you guys need lots of help. Your JVs can't close, can't defend and can't score. My, how the rot has set in!

Posted by Wasiu on 08/05/2011

I wish alex sanchet well in barcelona

Posted by Tochukwu on 08/06/2011

Alexis is good adition to team i pray that he lives up to the expectation of barca faithful fans. Barca for life.

Posted by olumide oluomo emmanuel on 08/08/2011

sanchex erra would be a better one for great barcelona,but mr gardiola should pls and buy more deffender,cos dat is only where we need for now.i wish fc barcelona good lock in jesus name amen

Posted by hussein jibril buju on 10/19/2011

I like BARCA, love BARCA and die for BARCA.

Posted by Emily on 12/15/2011

A rollnig stone is worth two in the bush, thanks to this article.

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Francesc Tomas Hola! I am Francesc Tomas. Barcelona is my passion and home-town team. I consider myself lucky to have regularly attended matches at the Camp Nou since the early 1980s. My cousin played for the Barça youth academy, sharing the team with Don Andres Iniesta, which gave me a clear inside view of how our club works behind the scenes. I am also the founder, editor and columnist at

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