The Barca midfielder, brilliant at the premiere of Setien at the Camp Nou, was one of the most affected by the style of Valverde
Since Sergio Busquets appeared in the Barça lineup in the second LaLiga 2008-2009 match against Racing, the day Pep GuardiolaHe made him jump from Third to Camp Nou, no one discussed the then surprising midfielder, and less when he had the written blessing of Johan Cruyff. And even Del Bosque, then coach, said: “If I were a player I would like to look like Busquets.” The technical secretary did not do it – the only two signed midfielders, Song and Mascherano, finished the centers – nor La Masia. The youth players called to be their relay are already walking away from the club: Sergi Samper is in the Vissel Kobe and Oriol Busquets plays in Twente. No coach was encouraged to put Busquets in check, the cornerstone of Barça de Guardiola, but also Tito Vilanova, Tata Martino and Luis Enrique. Until something changed last summer with Ernesto Valverde. Now, with Quique Setién it seems that normality has returned for Busi .
Valverde wanted to give more dynamism to the center of the field. The Barca coach told Rakitic in May that it would no longer be essential and in the first game in San Mamés he left Busquets on the bench. Valverde then opted for Sergi Roberto – wanted to return to the steering wheel post – and Aleñá, today at Betis. As a pivot, De Jong opened. It was not any signing. For the first time since Busquets debuted in the first team, Barça opted for another midfielder, awarded as the best midfielder of UEFA’s last season. Valverde’s play didn’t work: Barça fell in San Mamés: 1-0.
The Txingurri was corrected, but nothing was the same. While in the attack the only one who accused the rotations was the rookie Griezmann, in the defense the only doubt was Semedo or Sergi Roberto on the right side. In the center of the field, Valverde did not marry anyone. Solo De Jong seemed immovable: he played 80% of the minutes, more than the rest, Busquets (66%), Rakitic (37%), Arthur (36%) and Arturo Vidal (36%).
Arthur, prisoner of the injuries, did not complain. Vidal threatened to leave in winter – Inter does not give up incorporating him – and Rakitic was the first to express his discomfort. “I feel sad, just like my little daughter when a toy is taken away,” the Croatian confessed to Jorge Valdano in Movistar +. Busquets, however, said neither mu. At least, before the microphones. The relationship of the heavyweights of the midfield with Valverde was worn out while feeling unprotected by the dynamics of the team’s game, increasingly aware of the transitions, without time or space to take care of the ball in the division.
The situation strained some conversations in the locker room. “It is necessary to talk about some things; we have to improve, a few… ”, said Ter Stegen in Prague after Barça suffered to win Slavia by a minimum. In the dressing room differences between the players began to be seen and some discussions pointed to Valverde. There were those who complained that the Txingurri freed all strikers from defensive responsibility – Messi and Luis Suarez – a situation suffered by the flyers and Ter Stegen. In the first 19 days, Barcelona conceded 23 goals. Last season, he received 36 in the entire League, and 29 in 2017-2018.
The board watched with concern the evolution of the costumes relationship with Valverde. The technical secretariat knew that it had an expiration date and worked on a possible substitute. But I didn’t expect everything to rush. Barca’s flyers welcomed the arrival of Xavi Hernández. The most veteran never lost contact with their former partner, now Al-Sadd coach. In principle, it symbolized the return to pause football, less vertiginous, more conducive to players with a seal in La Masia.
Xavi understood that it was not time to return to Camp Nou. But not all were disappointments. Setién, self-proclaimed Cruyffista, accepted the challenge. Double joy for Busquets: Barça regained its obsession to control the games with the ball and on the bench sends a technician to its measure. Setién keeps as a relic a t-shirt autographed by the pivot of Badia. Before Granada, Busquets distributed 142 passes; The whole Andalusian team, 130. The pivot in symbiosis with the most rhetorical Barça of recent years: since 2011, there was no such high percentage of possession (82%). Busquets, considered at the time the best midfielder in football, regains power at 31 and Barça recovers the ball.