""Barcelona boos Pep Guardiola is stalling on signing a new contract with the club - until they can guarantee the £50m signing of Cesc Fabregas."
It wouldn't surprise me if Guardiola walked into the boardroom and demanded a full-blooded assault on Fabregas. Guardiola has a liking for Barcelona youth players. He promoted Sergio Busquets last year, Pedro this year, and Bojan Krkic's been around for a couple of years. He paid big money to lure Gerard Pique back from Man Utd. There's no reason to believe he won't do the same to try and get Cesc Fabregas back as well. I'm just surprised that he didn't try to resign Fran Merida when he was available.
It's like Guardiola is trying to turn Barcelona into an old boy's club for La Masia graduates. Incidentally, I tried to do that on Football Manager once. I picked up Pique for £25 million and Merida for £3 million. I cheated by making Busquets awesome, and promoted him to the first team. I improved Oleguer's stats until he was a viable right-back. I can't remember what I did at left-back and left-forward, but whatever the case, it was an excellent team and won everything. The only problem was that I couldn't get Arsenal to sell Fabregas. I bid £55 million, tapped him up like crazy, and Arsenal still wouldn't budge. It was incredibly frustrating to be so close to completing the set.
In real life, Guardiola's almost there - Valdes, Pique, Puyol, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro, Krkic.... apart from a lack of fullbacks, that's a team with serious ability. It would probably win the Premier League. But it's still not complete; Barcelona are a Fabregas away from having a full house. I hope Guardiola has the same (bad) luck in getting him as I did on FM08.
I think this large cohort of Barcelona ex-youth players one of Guardiola's greatest strengths. He knows these players intimately, since he helped develop most of them. They're all drilled to play the same sort of football. And they've grown up playing for him, so they'd be incredibly loyal. You can't underestimate that sort of rapport.
As luck would have it, we've got our own potential Guardiola in Steve Bould. Bould has done great things at the Academy, especially with last year's double-winning youngsters. I'm not sure he's got the experience or the tactical nous for the role, but it'll be a really interesting choice in four or five years' time. Bould would be as committed to the aesthetic sides of things as Wenger, and would be just as interested in promoting (his) youth players. He'd have a clutch of youngsters who've been with him for a long, long time, alongside relative veterans like Ramsey, Song, Bendtner and Walcott.
If he does get the gig, I just hope Steve Bould doesn't get carried away and try and resign players like Ashley Cole or David Bentley. I don't want the set that badly.