Well, only a few weeks left in the offseason and less than a month before our cup match against Real Madrid. And I’m not entirely sure what to think thus far about our offseason. In large part I like the signings we made, but they certainly don’t counterbalance the losses (and expected losses) that the team has endured.
Here is the relevant accounting (players who actually contributed and those who look likely to be on the team):
Out: Rakitic, Mbia, Coke, Varas, Marin
In: Aspas, Suarez, Vidal, Barbosa, Botia, Cicinho
Thus far you have to feel like those losses are bigger than the gains. I’m pleased with the low risk/high reward pickup of Aspas and the potential youthful quality of Vidal and Suarez (though annoyed by Barcelona’s buyback option). Barbosa seems like a capable backup keeper. I always liked Botia (though I liked Cala more). And if Cicinho is healthy again, then he could be a very valuable player to pair with Diogo (though they’re both a bit similar on the right side).
But you have to think that those additions still pale in comparison to the losses of Rakitic and Mbia in the center of the pitch. I still don’t fully understand what happened with Mbia and whether we did or did not have an option to bring him back. And I think that Monchi did as well as he could with the Rakitic transfer given his expiring contract. Of course, things get even more unsettled if/when Moreno finally gets sent to Liverpool. Coke leaving is a last minute surprise and a bit disappointing since he finished the season so well and showed such commitment to the team. But he’s certainly replaceable and Diogo will be in good position to seize this opportunity. Who do we have in the youth system who can come in and reinforce the RB/LB positions? And I still think we should bring back Medel… or Mbia… or both.
I guess really we all just need to be patient. It’s annoying having so much turnover in our roster, again. Again, it will take time for this team to learn how to play together and they might, again, have a slow and aggravating start to the season. One which may, again, cost us the 4th and final CL spot.
I might be alone in thinking this, but it all makes me look back at last season and wonder if we made the right choice by prioritizing Europa over 4th place. How much turnover do we think we would have had if we were headed to the CL next season? Would Mbia or Rakitic been more eager to stay?
Looking at the roster, right now, we’re behind where we finished last season. But before I get too panicked and freaked out, I think I need to just step back and remind myself that there is still a few more weeks of pre-season left (remember how much last minute turnover we had last year with Medel and Kondogbia leaving and Mbia, Pareja, and Carrico all coming in fairly late?). In the end, in Monchi I trust.