If Barcelona’s public and ham-fisted pursuit of Ferran Torres has any use at all, it is the way in which it provides a blow-by-blow demonstration of why many Manchester City fans generally cannot stand the old aristocrats of European football.
What really sticks in the craw is the persistent flaunting of the nebulous “Mes Que Un Club” principles that supposedly guide Barca’s noble operation, all the while insisting they are operating with the utmost dignity.
“Ferran is a great player and we are working with discretion,” said the club’s vice-president Rafael Yuste in quotes reported by several media outlets across the world, which doesn’t exactly scream discretion.
“We have friends at Manchester City and there is good relationship. Ferran Reverter [Barcelona CEO] has paid a courtesy call.
“I understand the questions but, out of respect for the players and the clubs, we cannot give expectations that could end up being positive or negative.”
I’m afraid to say, Rafael, in terms of proclamations of respect, it’s hardly up there with Aretha Franklin.
Ferran Torres has told Man City he wants to join Barcelona, according to Catalan sports paper Mundo Deportivo.
(Image: Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Then there are the briefings, coming out via Catalan publications such as Sport and Mundo Deportivo, that speak of terms being agreed with a player who has his heart set on representing Barcelona.
The only snag being a club with a debut in excess of £1bn don’t want to or can’t pay an asking price in the region of £60m, so would prefer some sort of arrangement on the cheap with a few of their first-team cast-offs thrown in.
Again, the respect just oozes out of them, doesn’t it?
“It’s not my business. You have to call Txiki [Begiristain, City’s director of football] for that, or the agent for Ferran Torres or Barcelona,” Pep Guardiola said ahead of City’s trip to Aston Villa, where he was tellingly relaxed and faintly amused over the subject of Ferran’s future.
“I’m not the guy to talk about that. I completely understand. I would prefer not, but it is what it is. We cannot control that and it depends on many, many things.”
What Guardiola completely understands is the huge appeal that, for all their numerous present flaws in terms of being a functional footballing or business operation, Barcelona still hold – especially for Spanish players.
Representing Barca or Real Madrid remains the ultimate for Ferran and his compatriots. As the new jewel of Luis Enrique’s national team he is desirable not just as a footballer, but as a commodity and status symbol.
If the Catalan giants can organise a sizable enough whip-round and Ferran departs, he will follow the career path that was widely predicted a decade ago for two other City stars.
Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrates with David Silva
(Image: Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images)
Sergio Aguero and David Silva would play a couple of seasons in the Premier League before returning to LaLiga to play for one of the big two, that was just how things happened at the start of the last decade.
Of course, it didn’t quite pan out like that. Lionel Messi was apparently keen on his great friend and countryman Aguero joining him at Barcelona in 2014 before the arrival of Luis Suarez.
The move might have made sense at other times too, but Sergio stayed and scored and scored some more. He departed earlier this year as City’s all-time leading goalscorer and will have a statue erected outside the Etihad Stadium.
Silva already has one of those, on account of his own sparkling decade. Real Madrid were frequently reported to hold an interest in the playmaker, who was the only non-Clasico representative in Spain’s XI for the final of Euro 2012.
David opened the scoring with a rare header and then got on with the business of making more magic happen in Manchester. He and Aguero are viewed as Premier League greats and two of City’s finest players in the club’s 127-year history.
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They are guaranteed a lifetime of adoration and boast bulging medal collections. Last season’s Premier League and Carabao Cup successes mean Aguero edges Silva 12-11 in terms of major honours won at City.
The Champions League escaped them both, but Barcelona offer absolutely no assurances in that regard nowadays. Ferran would decrease his chances of winning the big trophy by leaving a City side already with a seeded place in the last-16 draw in their back pocket.
Signing for Barcelona would undoubtedly be the thrill of Ferran Torres’ young life, but there are other ways to achieve greatness and the path marked out by Aguero and Silva is very clearly marked.
What do you think would be a fair price for Ferran Torres? Follow our City Is Ours editor Dom Farrell on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.