Arturo Vidal: Acclimatizing to the bench role at Barcelona
When Arturo Vidal joined Barcelona, it surely was a move welcomed by the Chilean. However, he has no realized that he is not a starter for the club.
It is the hard truth that Vidal has come to swallow the last few weeks. His "angry" reaction to his omission from the Barca starting eleven that played Tottenham, makes it clear he has not quite got his role in this team.
At the age of 31, he is not going to be a guaranteed starter in this team. That too in front of the irreplaceable Sergio Busquets, the ever-reliable Ivan Rakitic, who has come out of a great World Cup, and Coutinho, who has been brought in to replace the legendary Iniesta.
With Arthur getting the nod ahead of him both against Tottenham and Valencia and proving he has the Barca DNA, Vidal will find it extremely hard to get into the starting line up. Even Dembele, who started the season well has been displaced due to Arthur's inclusion and Valverde playing Coutinho further forward.
All this should be a sign for the two-time Copa America winner that he will spend much of his time on the bench, whether he likes it or not. It is a hard truth many players have come to realize. But one thing those players did not do is play with fire. Recent departures like Mina, Digne and Deulofeu did not complain publicly about their playing time. It kept them in the good graces of the manager and the fans.
But the route Vidal is embarking on can turn the manager and also the fans against him. While it will surely not turn into the Mourinho-Pogba saga on the other side of the English channel, it will mean that he could be frozen out completely.
It is also not like Barca do not have the backup in case the above-mentioned midfielders get injured. While there is no direct replacement for Busquets, Rakitic did play in that role last season. With Rafinha, Denis Suarez and La Masia graduate Alena in the mix, Barca have plenty of options. And with the rumour mill churning about a bid for Rabiot, Vidal needs to make sure his dream move doesn't end up into a bench warming nightmare.
In many ways, Vidal has an advantage over the man he replaces, Paulinho. Paulinho's transfer was widely criticized. Even I found the transfer strange and meaningless. But all doubts were cleared once he stepped on to the field. Paulinho gave the Catalans a direct approach and with his Lampardish runs from the midfield, he scored some crucial goals. Even though he did not find much playing time towards the end, he understood his role in the team and everyone considers his transfer a success.
Vidal has the advantage of being known as one of the best midfielders at his prime. His last season was hampered by injuries but everyone knows he is world class. Unlike Paulinho, Vidal's transfer was hailed as a coup of sorts. Having played with giants such as Juventus and Bayern only makes this transfer impressive. He should use the positive buzz around this transfer and understand his role.
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Valverde wanted a warrior and got one in Vidal. What Vidal needs to understand though is that his manager won't use him until the going goes tough. He is the joker of this squad, the one to take his team out of trouble. But if he continues his cryptic posts, Valverde will decide to take his joker card out of the pack.
Welcome to FC Barcelona, Arturo Vidal.