Why Pep, not Cesc, must be Barça’s priority

It doesn’t take much to kick up a bit of a fuss in Spain.

One of the topics currently making the headlines is a complaint by the opposition, Partido Popular, that when their local politicians are arrested for corruption, they are more likely to be handcuffed by the police than those who are members of the ruling PSOE. The fact that the majority of the country’s local leaders are apparently thieving scumbags isn’t really a topic up for discussion. And that’s why there are potential storm clouds on Barcelona’s currently calm sea of self satisfaction - clouds that will need to be dispersed at some point soon. It takes very little to get the Catalan boat rockin’ and rollin’.

Just last summer Joan ‘Joan’ Laporta was just a few votes away from being turfed out of his role as the King of Catalunya after a fan revolt produced a recall election. Twelve months later and all appears to be well in Camp Nou after an astonishing season.

But that’s not quite the case as the future is a fairly uncertain one for the Catalan club. This is mainly down to off-the-field issues, although the big money swap of Eto’o for Zlatan may be called into question, especially in the Madrid press should the Swedish striker fail to set la Liga alight. Towards the end of the current campaign, Barça’s board will have to call elections to choose a new president. The problem is that Laporta will not be able to stand having already served two terms. Barring an Hugo Chávez style ‘amendment’ to Barça’s statutes (La Liga Loca would rule nothing out) or a coup led by the current president’s Praetorian guard, there is likely to be an unseemly scrap for supremacy. If it is typical of elections held by Spain’s big two, the campaign will be nasty, viscous, childish but hugely entertaining as a group of suits you wouldn’t even trust to water your plants when you’re on holiday try to take control of a whopper of a football club.

The presidential nonsense to come is already throwing a big, old spanner in the works of what should be Barcelona’s immediate priority, namely the renewal of Pep Guardiola’s contract. He-Who-Should-Never-Be-Doubted is currently half way through a two year deal and has is reported to be rather concerned over what will happen when a new boss comes in and potentially tries to change his backroom set-up. Sport write that Pep is already demanding a clause in any future deal that allows him to walk out of the Camp Nou next summer, should he fail to take a fancy to the new president.  Indeed, negotiations have currently been suspended until the end of the month as Barcelona attempt to complete the signings of Cesc Fabregas, Cyryhsk...Chryssjj....Chrryyising...a Commie defender, Juan Mata and Joey Barton.

But from La Liga Loca’s humble standpoint it seems as if Pep is not exactly desperate to get a deal fixed.

There has been plenty of opportunity to hold talks and thrash something out over the summer but nothing has so far been sorted.

Guardiola has talked in the past of serving just a two or three season tenure at the Camp Nou before trying something new.

As he speaks a good 18 languages or so - and is a living god - he certainly won’t be short of options should he leave. It may be that he intends standing by this prediction as he is a fairly shrewd operator.

After winning the treble, Guardiola knows that there is only one way to go in his standings in the fearsomely fickle world of Spanish football. While both Sport and Mundo Deportivo back Pep, it is only a temporary stance that could shift dramatically should he struggle to repeat the success of last season. But what is a more likely outcome is a paper siding with one of the new presidential challengers, who may have different ideas as to who should lead the club.

In the Realpolitik world of the Spanish football press, anything is possible. In theory, the renewal of Pep Guardiola’s contract is a no-brainer.

But as the club are finding out, it may not be an easy business due to doubts over its instutional future and the survival instincts of Pep himself - someone whose knowledge of the workings of Barcelona runs deep.

Very deep, in fact, as Barcelona may find out to its cost.


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