Let’s make a couple of things clear to begin with. First is that Samuel Eto’o is not going to leave FC Barcelona this summer, the player has no desire to leave and Laporta and Txiki Beguiristain have both stated that they want him to stay. Second, Rijkaard is not going to change the system to accomodate Henry. We are not going to see Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Messi and Henry playing together unless the team is losing and Rijkaard has to take a risk. So, if they are all fit, one of them will have to start as a substitute.
Rijkaard can of course use rotations and that may work fine for a while, but there will come a time in the season when one of the four will feel that they are spending more than their fair share of the time with their expensive arse sat on the bench. Henry will have to be back to his best if he doesn’t want to be that player. I think it will be a close thing between Eto’o, Ronaldinho and Henry, but if I had to bet right now I’d say that Henry will be left out most. Hopefully they will all steer clear of injury so we can enjoy a proper battle between them for places. At the beginning of the season, there will be plenty of comments from the players about what good friends they all are, that the club is more important than the individual, and that they intend to give everything for the good of the team, but as petty jealousies grow during the season, expect to see some sparks.
Whoever ends up on the bench is not going to like it. The camaras will be on them all the time, picking up on anyone who doesn’t celebrate a goal effusively enough. And then the papers will be full of stories telling us that Eto’o is not happy, that Ronaldinho is looking at a move to Milan, or that Thierry Henry regrets leaving London.
The battle for a place will probably be good for Barça at the start of the season, but I feel as time goes by, the inner tensions will begin to emerge and Barça will suffer the consequences in the long term.
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