It’s fair to say the Catalan sport media can sometimes come across as arrogant.
It probably comes with years of Barcelona being successful whilst playing great football. Barcelona are the white knight against the baddies of Real Madrid, the moral guidance in a modern football world.
Some of the reaction to Gerard Deulofeu’s loan move to Watford is an example of the approach. It’s not where the 23 year old planned to be at this stage in his career, that’s for sure.
Catalan newspaper Sport brand it a ‘miserable’ move to a ‘minor team’ of the Premier League. But rather than dismissing Watford and questioning what Deulofeu has done to see his career drop from what was expected, perhaps there needs to be some introspective thinking at Barcelona and in their friendly media.
Deulofeu spent the second half of last season on loan at AC Milan, and did well, although not as well as some excited Italian reports suggested at the time.
Milan were considering signing the player as part of their mass summer recruitment, but Barcelona had a buyback clause with Everton, allowing them to get the La Masia product back for just €12m.
In the Catalan media at the time there were countless claims that Barca would use the clause and then sell Deulofeu immediately, subsequently making a profit without doing anything.
But that wasn’t possible, it still isn’t reported in the Catalan media to this day, but Everton had put their own subclauses into Barcelona’s buyback clause. Then Everton manager, Roberto Martinez confirmed it publicly at the time of Deulofeu’s 2015 signing.
The Merseyside club are due a cut when there’s a sale and Barcelona are prevented from selling within the first season, which could be why Deulofeu is on a straight loan at Watford rather than one with a clause.
Barcelona only used their buyback clause the day before it expired, leaving it as late as possible. It clearly wasn’t a case of them signing Deulofeu back and being excited to have him available to manager Ernesto Valverde, the return was more a marriage of convenience.
Deulofeu got one last, however unlikely, shot at making it at Barca, and the Catalan club got a cheap deal with the chance to make a small, but still meaningful, profit in the future. A €20m buyout clause was slapped on the player, a sign as good as any that it wasn’t a transfer fully committed to, and then the waiting game began.
Sport say there’s been a surprise at Barcelona that Watford were the only serious takers, there’s a tangible annoyance there wasn’t a tussle to sign the player, thereby giving a good chance of that profit at the end of the season.
Barcelona’s friendly media shouldn’t even be in the position to sneer at Deulofeu’s move to Watford, because their beloved club shouldn’t have used their clause and further complicated an already stuttering career.
They bought a player they didn’t really want, because €12m seemed a good price, gave him 500 La Liga minutes over the first half of the season, saw his career progress stop, and then their friendly media are surprised over a ‘miserable’ move to Watford.