In his first column for TribalFootball.com, Valencia and Boca Juniors great Dario Felman discusses Julian Alvarez, Xavi and Barcelona and why Los Che must buy before the transfer window closes…
ALVAREZ PERFECT FOR MAN CITY
At this moment in time, I think Manchester City is the ideal club for Julian Alvarez because he’s coming from the school of River Plate.
He’s really grown as a player under the guidance of the legendary player and now manager Marcelo Gallardo. Álvarez has evolved “una barbaridad”(a lot) under the guidance of a young manager. Gallardo has already won everything as a manager with River Plate and this new kid appeared on the block (Álvarez) with great pace and a real nose for goal.
Álvarez has great ball control, he’s fast and he is an opportunist in front of goal, which makes him perfect for The English Premier League and Manchester City. These days, the Argentinian league is very tough and organized and competitive. So, it is really difficult to be scoring about twenty goals a season, which he has done. Julián Álvarez is “a la moda” at the moment as a footballer. He’s grown as a person and as a player at River. By the way, River Plate is not an easy club for a player to be successful in as it is a very demanding club.
DYBALA MUST LEAVE JUVE
There are two things that define Paulo Dybala at Juventus…beforeCristiano Ronaldo and afterCristiano Ronaldo.
Before Ronaldo joined Juventus, Dybala was the goal scorer, the leader, the star and motivator of the team. Paulo was comfortable with his important and key role at Juventus. After Ronaldo arrived, the team was made for Ronaldo and Dybala also suffered some injuries that he didn’t always fully recover from.
Dybala was a phenomenal player in the past and is still a very good footballer now. It would do him a lot of good to seek a change of scene and a change of club or “aires frecos” as we say in Spanish.
Between Real Madrid and Barcelona, Dybala would fit better at Barça because possession football is like a religion there. He’s an attacking player, which also fits in with Barça’s philosophy of what football should be about.Real Madrid already has plenty of stars whereas FC Barcelona is in a moment of transition with lots of younger players coming through.
WHAT ABOUT XAVI AND BARCELONA?
I was surprised by the easy sale of Ferran Torres from Manchester City to Barcelona from a footballing point of view. From a business point of view, it’s a logical sale as they bought him for not much more than 20 million from Valencia and have sold him to Manchester City for about 50 million.
However, I’m surprised that Pep Guardiola would let such a talented lad go…bearing in mind that Ferran Torres has already scored 12 goals in 20 matches with the Spanish national team and he’s only 21 years old!
I’m surprised that Manchester City didn’t keep him for a few more years. Having said that, it’s really difficult for any player to get regular football at City because of the sheer quality of the squad. These days, Manchester City are the best team in England and are way ahead in the Premier League too. They are a lot more solid than Chelsea.
When Manchester City pull out all the stops, they are unbeatable when they are playing well. However, City also have periods when they lose their winning streak and it sometimes costs them quite a bit to get back to their peak performances. For that reason, I’m surprised that City let Ferran Torres go. He is the kind of player with a quality to really make a difference to a side and lift the team in the brief bad patches that all great clubs have. Like I said before, his sale only makes sense from a business point of view, not a footballing one. Perhaps being one of the youngest members of the squad and not having been there (at City) for so long made it easier to sell him too.
I think Xavi’s role is to deal with a difficult situation at FC Barcelona that neither previous managers nor directivos have dealt with before, and to put some order into the structure of the team. Now that Messi has left, there are star players who no longer want to play at Barcelona and the club is struggling with paying the high wages too. Look at what is happening to Dembélé and what happened to Coutinho.
Xavi’s reputation as a Barcelonista is spectacular. His CV is superb given that he won everything with Barcelona as a player and the Spanish national team too. Also, he did a really great job in Qatar as a manager where he won the league and 3 cups too.
Barcelona are obliged to qualify for the Champions league for its history and prestige and power as a club and also for the money as they have a lot of debts now! La Liga really lost something special when Messi left and, with the pandemic, maintaining high wages is more difficult so there’s less investment in stars but younger players at Barcelona are coming through. However, real success and titles are going to take time now.
Regarding who has made more of a difference at Real Madrid (Ancelotti or Vinicius), it’s a “linda pregunta” because when I see the development of a player who began, under Zidane, not fitting in the team and not having much personality to how Vinicius is playing now (under Ancelotti) and scoring goals. I know that 50 per cent of a player’s improved performance is always down to the manager.
Ancelotti saw something in Vinicius that other managers didn’t see! Something has changed. Before, Vinicius missed goals and now he scores them.
Regarding Vinicius being the “best player in the world”…as an individual player I would perhaps say yes, Vinicius is the best player in the world…
He’s really impressive with the ball, tricky for defenders, a game changer and skilful and a great goal scorer too. However, we shouldn’t forget Haaland, Lewandowski and Mbappé.
Real Madrid are taking advantage of the fact that Barcelona are in disarray…in terms of as a team and as a club. Madrid see it is the right time to get way, way ahead on points in La Liga compared to their arch-rivals Barcelona. It’s a competitive mentality of not conforming with being 20 points ahead of the competition, but aiming for being 50 points ahead!
Real Madrid are the best team in Spain for the way they play and for the individual quality of the footballers in the squad too. Without a doubt, Ancelotti is a really great manager and the best in La Liga too. His concept of football and his experience in the world of football and his psychological capacities and tenacity all make him one of the best managers in the world. He’s given Real Madrid real personality too. He’s happy there.
Zidane left Real Madrid feeling that his top players were getting on in age. Ancelotti has arrived and we have seen Rodrygo grow, Vinicius develop and the incredible progress as a footballer of Benzema too. Ancelotti is astute enough to leave out really important players like Hazard and Bale and still making Real Madrid a successful team. Ancelotti’s first eleven are untouchable. Casemiro has become a superb “sexto defensor ” who plays in front of the Madrid defence and is always there to plug any spaces that any of the defenders might have left. It’s a system that works like clockwork!
Regarding winning La Liga, it’s a competitive league where any team is capable of beating another team. You have to bear in mind too that Real Madrid are competing in all competitions. For example, a few Real Madrid players are now in Brazil representing their nation. So, I don’t know the toll that it is going to take on the players with all the travelling and number of matches.
However, the way Real Madrid are playing now, they are unbeatable at the moment. So, despite the fact that any club can go through a bad patch. They are currently favourites to win La Liga.
Regarding Real Madrid in the Champions League, playing against PSG is a double-edged sword. The Parisians can play like the Gods and have their fans applauding and giving standing ovations for their attacking football and impressive goals, but they can also make a real mess of things in defence.
VALENCIA MUST MAKE MOVES
In my opinion, Jose Bordalás is the best signing that Valencia have made in the last 6 months.
He’s a great manager with a lot of personality. His concept of football is clear too. If you don’t run, you don’t play. Before he arrived, the Valencia CF squad was not planned well by the owners but the new manager has won the confidence of the dressing room. He has managed to get ‘el jugo’ (the juice) out of a team that has become weakened over recent seasons. Bordalás has managed to get Cillessen and Correia and Guedes playing at their very best level and reach their true potential.
Bordalás has created a sense of solidarity and unity within the squad. It’s quite a thin squad really but he has made sure that everybody has to give their best, otherwise they’re not getting a match! Also, he is from nearby Alicante so he knows the Valencia region very well and its people and their expectations.
Local lads Carlos Soler and José Gayà are the best players that Valencia have and are evolving under Bordalás too. They are loyal to Valencia and they believe in the project despite its limitations.
Yes, Bordalás does need to make signings before the deadline falls. The problem with the Valencia CF owner Peter Lim is that he doesn’t have football experts running the club…like his diplomats and economists and financiers. Football is passion and “sentimiento” and Lim sees football more as a business. Anyone who has experienced Spanish football in a stadium, be it in Bilbao or in Seville or in Valencia know that passion and a real ‘feeling’ for your club is what it is all about.
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