Barcelona’s signing of Douglas raised questions, his debut against Malaga fuelled doubts further. Wasi Manazir has a look at this ‘suspicious’ activity.
After pursuing all summer for the signature of Colombia’s brilliant right back and one of their star performers at the World Cup Juan Cuadrado, on 26th Aug, Barcelona announced the signing of Douglas. Douglas who? Yes, that was the reaction of every Cule who heard the news.
Douglas Pereira dos Santos prior to his signing for one of the European giants plied his trade in the Brazilian league for São Paulo. There were no signs of him turning into a player who would one day play for a top European club, let alone a club as star studded as FC Barcelona. Not even the regular followers and diehard fans of São Paulo could believe Blaugrana’s interest in their unremarkable right back.
With the impending transfer ban looming on the Catalans and not quite stacked at the right back position, the club needed to act fast and decisively. One of the standout performers during the team’s dominance in the last 6 years has been their first choice right back Dani Alves and his fantastic link up play with the team’s talisman Lionel Messi. But even the most ardent Barca supporter will acknowledge a noticeable dip in Alves’s form in the last two seasons.
Besides the management isn’t in favor of renewing his contract that expires next summer. The only proper back up is the La Masia grad and a relative green horn Martin Montoya, but even his performances in the few starts he has got has divided opinion among the Catalan faithful. Adriano can play on both sides as a full back but is generally preferred on the left and is the only backup for Jordi Alba on that side of the pitch.
All these factors pointed in the direction of Barcelona’s need to acquire a right back that would straight away slot into the first team. Cuadrado’s performances and especially offensive thrust he provides had the supporters seeing the next Alves in him, but unfortunately the club gave up its bid to sign him, though no official reasons have been provided for the same, rumors abound that it was to comply with the UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations. Cuadrado was reportedly priced at a steep €40m by Fiorentina.
Once the pursuit of Cuadrado was over, an unknown quantity Douglas started getting linked with the Catalans. All the scout reports coming from his home fans and Brazilian journalists pointed towards him being a very ordinary player at best and being nowhere near the level of playing for a top European club let alone the Catalan giants. But to everyone’s surprise the signing did happen and Douglas joined for €4 million fee plus €1.5 million in add-ons on a five year contract.
The price might not be a big deal for Barcelona but the biggest question was him being quality enough to start at Barcelona something that the club needed.
Finally, a month after his official signing and presentation Douglas made his debut for the club in La Rosaleda against the Andalusians, Malaga last week. His performance proved those reports from Brazil were not wrong after all. Douglas had a pretty much forgettable night on the pitch.
He was poor in offense and extremely clumsy in defense. The whole night Barcelona almost played without any attacking threat on the right, playing on that wing Pedro’s poor form was equally responsible for this. But Douglas showed absolutely no inclination to take on his man let alone actually beat him; any pass to him eventually led to a back pass and on a rare occasion an extremely poor grounded cross straight into the hands of the opposition goal keeper.
His clumsiness in defense almost led to a penalty for Malaga on the 60th minute mark when he jumped from behind all over the Malaga attacker and brought him down. The referee somehow failed to point to the spot.
His foul on the Malaga substitute Luis Alberto resulted in a free kick that he almost scored from at the near post only for Claudio Bravo to keep it out aided by the goal post. That foul also saw him collect a yellow. The StatZone graphic below shows his contributions or lack thereof on the night.
He was finally subbed off in the 70th minute in favor of Adriano to provide some semblance of attack down the right.
The Brazilian’s performance ensured that he won’t be making many appearances for the Catalans if at all. More importantly it raised a lot of questions on the Barcelona’s scouting staff for his signing.
But perhaps most importantly it puts the board in perspective, there have been many reports claiming the board being corrupt to the bone, which was proved after the resignation of the club president Sandro Rossell after inaccuracy’s in Neymar’s signing came to light. The current incumbent Josep Bartomeu is filling in after Rossell’s resignation and was an integral part of Rossell’s team.
It has been confirmed that Douglas is owned by the same third party owners, a company called Traffic who also owned Barcelona’s previous equally questionable signings Henrique and Keirrison; who as it turned out didn’t make a single appearance for the club.
It is widely rumored that these players were signed because of some kind of shoddy arrangements between the board and Traffic. So far there is nothing to prove or disprove these allegations. But all the club supporters hope Douglas is last of these questionable deals.
Written by Wasi Manazir