Four decades later, a thank-you note to Mr. Cruyff

August 13, 1973.

Almost exactly 43 years ago, Ajax Amsterdam and FC Barcelona agreed to terms and Johan Cruyff signed a record transfer fee to become a Barça player. Cruyff was insistent that he end up in the Catalan capital, going so far as to threaten a boycott of the 1974 World Cup to pressure the Dutch federation into cooperating with his exit from the Netherlands.

Barring some manner of omniscience, nobody involved in brokering that deal for Barça truly knew how important Cruyff was destined to become. If they had known, they may well have paid even more.

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The Messi era at Barça is among the best in history

By wrapping up the Liga with Saturday’s win against Granada CF, FC Barcelona secured its sixth league title in eight years. There’s nothing inherently special about six in eight. It’s an arbitrary range that begins with the exit of Ronaldinho and, consequently, the beginning of the Lionel Messi epoch. Pep Guardiola took over in the summer of 2008, sold a few of the team’s most celebrated players, and focused the team’s attack around then 21-year old Messi. Since that summer, Barça have won six league titles and three Champions League trophies, as well as a bunch of other cups history cares less about.

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