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26.12.2008 17:11

5627 minutes for newcomers

Berta Brau

With the first four minutes of the season over, now is a good time to review the form of the five new Barcelona signings. Alves has been used the most and Cáceres the least, while Piqué, Keita and Hleb lie in between.

Pep Guardiola requested new players for the 2008/09 season, and Dani Alves, Alexander Hleb, Gerard Piqué, Seydou Keita, and Martin Cáceres were the ones drafted in four months ago. Each of the players has progressed in different ways, and to a greater or lesser extent have helped shaped the modern history of FC Barcelona.

Dani Alves plays most

fcb-val1_x10x.jpgThe Brazilian full back is a clear example of the attacking defender. Since his arrival he has formed a regular part of Guardiola’s first team plans and is actually the most used outfield player in the squad with a total of 1,960 minutes in 21 outings (15 in the League, 4 in the Champions League and 2 in the Copa del Rey). He started all of those games and has proved to be a useful acquisition both as a defender and for advancing up the right in support in more offensive moves, scoring twice.

Piqué settling back in

The young centre back Gerard Piqué has played a major role on his return to Barça, the team he always held dear in his heart. In 16 appearances, 66% of the total, Piqué has, like Alves, proven to be just as capable of supporting the attack as fulfilling his normal defensive duties. Piqué has also started every one of the games he has played in the famous Blaugrana colours this season.

Keita in the middle

vilareal-fcb_x2x.jpgMalian Seydou Keita is one of the middle-ranking players in terms of appearances, having played 1,016 minutes. He is looking and more comfortable on the field, and has been on target three times in the League already. The African is not only making his presence more felt but also proving to be an almost indispensable element of the squad.

Hleb winning a place

The Belarusian missed much of the early part of the season through injury, but apart from that month out, Hleb has adapted nicely to the team, and seems to be gaining the confidence of coach Pep Guardiola. Until now, Hleb has played in 16 games in all three competitions, starting nine of those and totalling 829 minutes on the pitch. It is going forward where the Belarusian is proving most effective, and he is often involved in attacking moves on the edge of the area and has supplied more than one goal assist.

Fewer chances for Cáceres

17-12-08_WEB_CACERES_02.jpgMartin Cáceres is the newcomer who seems to be getting the least action under Pep Guardiola. The Uruguayan defender has only played in 9 of the 24 official matches played so far by FC Barcelona, equating to 558 minutes in 4 League, 3 Champions League and 2 Copa del Rey encounters. These have been too few opportunities for Cáceres to really give us a taste of everything he has to promise.
5627 minutes for newcomers
Pinto, a familiar face
Goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto also formalised his transfer to FC Barcelona after arriving on a six-month loan last season. He has been in 23 of the 24 squads named this season, but almost always as reserve keeper and it was only in the two cup games with Benidorm that he actually got to play. But in both games he kept clean sheets to show that he is still a player well worthy of consideration, although as expected, Victor Valdes has made sure his understudy has spent most of his time warming the bench.

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