Even before the new broke that Pep Guardiola had agreed to join FC Bayern, there was speculation that he may try to oversee the transfer of some of his old team's stars to his new club. Barca president Sandro Rosell specifically warned Guardiola against poaching, and said "I hope he focuses his attentions on other players, and not ours, when it comes to building his new project." So ... will Pep heed the advice?
First of all, the fact that Pep agreed to join FC Bayern complicates the matter immensely. As we've discussed at length, Bayern are already stacked at pretty much every position - if anything, our problems are along the lines of "not enough spaces" rather than "not enough guys." And, of course, Barca is a great club that are, themselves, in line to win trophies this year; there's no guarantee that any of them would have any desire to leave.
So let's not plan on bringing in any of his old players. Let's assume Pep will work with what he has on hand. Let's just consider the rest of this post as a creative experiment that probably won't be acted out in real life. With those disclaimers, here's a list of Barca players I wouldn't mind poaching, in order. This will surely lead to disagreement - feel free to leave your opinions in the comment section.
1) Lionel Messi
I know, right? But, yeah, he probably ain't coming.
2) Gerard Pique
Bayern is solid at every position. But, if there were one position where we had a tiny bit of wiggle room, it might be CB. Holger Badstuber will hopefully go on to have a great career, but until we're sure that he's all the way recovered from his torn ACL, you could make an argument that we could stand to upgrade here. Jerome Boateng has been good, but not great. He continues to make occasional positional errors, and he commits too many fouls. Daniel van Buyten and Anatoliy Tymoschuk are both competent short-term back-ups, but one or both may be gone at the end of the year.
Would Pique really be an improvement as a partner with Dante? Maybe. He's tall, and could maybe give us something extra on balls in the air. He's a pretty solid man marker. He certainly has big game experience. Of course, Pique isn't a speed demon, and he can be beat himself:
Still, Pique is considered one of the world's best defenders for a reason. Despite rumors that they had arguments in the past, Pique spoke up last spring to talk about how much he respects Guardiola. And he's played with Javi Martinez on the Spanish National side. But then, will Javi himself end up playing at CB under Guardiola? Maybe - in which case, we'd have no need for Pique. But then we may have some room in the defensive midfield ...
3) Sergio Busquets
He's such a dick. But I'll be honest, sometimes I've thought, "man, we could use a guy like that on our roster." Like it or not, drawing cheap fouls, pissing off opponents, and doing other such dirty work are a big part of the game these days. And while he might be best known for his dirty work, his passing skills and positioning are actually really good.
He'd probably never leave Barca. But we know Pep and Sergio are tight, with Busquets calling his old boss "the best manager in the world." Hmm ...
4) Marc Bartra
Same reasons to get a CB as described above for Pique. The 22-year-old Bartra is a little less proven, not quite a star yet in his own right. But (from what I've seen) he's very talented. He's pretty quick, he's a solid tackler, and despite being shorter than Pique, he can get to balls in the air pretty well himself. And he's got great ball control for a CB:
I'll be honest, I've probably seen this guy play, like, 3 times. But this is probably more the type of move that might actually be made. If Pique, Puyol, and Mascherano all get time at CB, would Bartra rather come to Bayern and get a chance to fight for a starting spot? But would he even get such a chance? Deep waters, indeed.
5) Christian Tello
A great talent who I think will be seen as a world-class star pretty soon. Tello has deadly touch on the ball, and can score from a long, winding dribble, or from a quick one-two passing move. He can play multiple positions. And he just turned 21 this past summer.
As he wasn't a regular for most of Pep's tenure at the Camp Nou, there might not be as much of a relationship to draw on (as far as convincing him to move). But at the same time, he also won't be seeing much playing time if he stays at Barca. Could he and Shaqiri be the heirs-in-waiting to Ribery and Robben?
6) Victor Valdes
Sure, he can back up Neuer.
7) Isaac Cuenca
Ichabod Crane couldn't even find the field for Barca before his injury last year. So why would we want him? But Pep has always been known to like him. Cuenca might feel like things are too crowded at Barca and look for a move. Could he be a good squad player at Bayern, and help open things up with his awareness and off-the-ball movement? He could almost be a poor man's Müller for Pokal matches and such.
8) Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Fabregas, Sanchez, etc.
All great players, all unlikely to leave, none play a position where we have anything approaching a need. No fun. Anyway, check out the poll below, and stay tuned for more Pep-to-Bayern updates throughout the week. Thanks for reading.
Aside from Messi, which Barcelona player would you like to poach?
Xavi (7 votes)
Iniesta (18 votes)
David Villa (17 votes)
Alexis Sanchez (9 votes)
Gerard Pique (27 votes)
Carles Puyol (3 votes)
Christian Tello (23 votes)
Pedro (5 votes)
Dani Alves (3 votes)
Isaac Cuenca (2 votes)
Eric Abidal (0 votes)
Other / none / it's complicated (explain in comments) (37 votes)
151 total votes