Top Bins Talk is excited to announce our new column “From The Fans,” a dialogue between ourselves and the most passionate of supporters from teams around the globe. We ask them a whole host of questions regarding the current state of their side, their favorite memories as a fan, and their hopes for the future of their team.

Today we are blessed with the presence of Barcelona fan Keven Duan (@keven_duan). This is a quality read…trust us.

Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been supporting Barcelona and what is your best memory as a fan? How and why did you become a fan of Barca?

Thanks for having me boys! My name is Keven Duan and I am a Barca fan from just outside of Seattle, Washington. I began playing footy at the age of 4, starting out as a right back and eventually moving my way up to midfield at the collegiate level. For me, it was all about the tekkers – a player’s quality should first and foremost be judged by their ability with the ball. One’s dribbling talent, first touch, and clean, pitch-clipping passing ability were of utmost importance.

Naturally, I fell in love with the club that embodies these qualities and much more. My family did not watch a whole lot of TV growing up but when we did, we were watching football. More importantly, we were watching Barca. I have to accredit my dad for the formal introduction – as a stan of Maradona and Cruyff, his love sparked my interest around the time of Ronaldinho and after that, well, we know how the story goes. Magical times my friends.

Why Barca? That’s the easy part. Favorite memory? Tough, tough question. If I had to pick a period, it would be any of those years under Pep where we made the opposition look like my laundry on a Sunday night. My single favorite moment would probably be Messi’s legendary extra time finish against Real Madrid (2017) in what would be his 500th Barca goal: the beautiful run out of the back from Sergi Roberto (which we’ve seen before), the layoff from Andre Gomes to Jordi, and the cutback to Messi, the assassin. The iconic celebration in front of all the Madridstas was simply the cherry on top.

How would you rate this past/current season for Barca from 1-10 and why? 

Even with our big summer signings sealed and delivered, there was a lot of uncertainty going into the season. With Valverde at the helm, there was no clear playing style and our decent results came simply from the brilliance of Messi time and time again. Players that lacked contribution continued to see more playing time than those more deserving. Young prospects were sent away on loan as mere pieces of business. Rumored corruption within the board plagued the daily media outlets. On top of all that, the resigning of Valdes (Juvenil A) and controversial statements from Abidal later on put our internal decay in full display.

On paper, we arguably had the most talented team in the world. On the field, the team was so far gone from the beautiful style Barca has been known to play. Beyond frustrating to watch. If Madrid weren’t delivering shambolic performances themselves, any shot at the league title would’ve been a pipe dream.

Then came Quique Setien. His admiration for the club’s history and desire to earn results was a beautiful change of pace from his predecessor. Although he only had a few months in charge due to the virus, it seemed as though he embodied the Barca philosophy implemented so many years ago by Cruyff. He wanted to control the game and bring excitement back to the Camp Nou faithful. I don’t want to be too critical of his initial results due to the complexity involved in such philosophy, but there have definitely been hopeful signs already. First and foremost, the return of Busquets as the team’s metronome is quite telling in itself. Secondly, I saw flashes of the tiki-taka movement where we walk the ball into the back of the net. That emphasizes a reliance on team play rather than individual brilliance and when the two are combined, we truly have a shot of greatness once more.

Only time will tell, but I am looking forward seeing the team back in action once the league opens back up. Overall season rating: 6/10.

“I like my team to play well, that’s the only way I can go home happy. If we win 1-0 undeservedly, I will be happy with the 3 points but I will go home annoyed because what you need is to feel good and do things properly. If you do it well, you will always have more chance of winning.” – Setien (press conference with Barca TV, Jan 17th 2020)

Who does your club need to sign this summer? Who is your dream signing?

Nothing beats the rumors leading up to transfer season. Who are we signing this year? Will we bring prince Neymar back home? Will we sign Mbappe for $400 mil? Any chance of bringing Ronaldinho and Ronaldo out of retirement? I swear I saw a tweet where we were in negotiation with CR7 himself.

Looking at our current squad, our talent is already off the charts. I think the first thing we must do is pray that Schalke don’t have the funds to activate Todibo’s loan-purchase option. That will lock down the quality reinforcement we need at CB with Araujo coming through the system. Next on the list is a left back worthy of replacing a declining Jordi Alba. Someone like Alphonso Davies would be elite but highly unlikely.

I believe the most crucial signing is in the striking department. With an aging Suarez and chronically injured Dembele, Barca needs a lethal “9” who can combine play and dunk Messi’s alley-oops. All the signs are pointing to the signing of Lautaro Martinez who would be an incredible signing. For me, I think Timo Werner would be the ideal signing though – clinical, technical, and pacey. His ability to play as both CF and LW are almost David Villa-esque (and allegedly, his price tag is around half of Lautaro as well). Absolute bargains.

Who is your dream manager? Are you satisfied with the job that Quique Setien has done so far?

My dream manager would be Pep Guardiola. To bring him back would mean the end of the competitive football. Also, with Manchester City’s possible Champions League ban, the return looks more and more imminent every day. Honorable mentions would be Ajax’s ten Hag and our very own Xavi. We all saw what ten Hag was able to achieve with Ajax in the Champions League last year and their demolishing of Real Madrid was so very reminiscent of a throwback Barca. Would love to see what he could unlock with Barca’s talent. With Xavi, he is still too inexperienced but there’s no doubt we’ll see his return in the future.

I’m satisfied with Setien so far. There is a lot of work to be done, but I think he’s taken the right steps after coming in halfway through the season. Our playing style has already changed dramatically, and we saw glimpses of what he aims to accomplish. Next season will be very telling, but for now all we can do is be patient and support.

Who, in your opinion, is Barca’s best all-time player and manager? Who is your least favorite player or most overrated in your eyes? To make this a little more interesting, you can’t choose Messi.

Barca has seen the most incredible talents come in and out with the likes of Cruyff, Koeman, Kluivert, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, and Maradona to name a few. For the sake of this question, I’m going to choose from the players and managers that I witnessed in my time.

That being said, Pep Guardiola is the best all-time manager in my eyes. In the history of football, that is. Barca’s best all-time player would have to be Ronaldinho. He represented the joy in football: dancing, smiling, and saucing his way into the heart of the Blaugrana. Remember that banger of a goal against Chelsea in 2005? Cheeky. Shoutout to the legend for passing the torch to Messi as well.

Best club accomplishment?

The 2009 season that saw us take home the “sextuple” is quite possibly the best season every completed by a team. La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions League (over Manchester United in a thrilling game), Spanish Super League, UEFA Super Cup, and the Club World Cup Final.

Favorite match you’ve been to (or watched)?

My eyes have been blessed to see Barcelona play when they came for a friendly against the Seattle Sounders. Knowing that I was in the same vicinity as Messi was incredible. Every seat in the stadium was filled (attendance: 66,848) to watch the legends take the field. Messi bagged two first-half goals, and the fans couldn’t be happier.

My favorite game I watched on television was the Champions League final against Manchester United (2009). Barca was on the back foot early on and it wasn’t until Eto’os finish when the game opened up. I distinctly remember my brother and I having a standoff: him supporting Man. United and me, Barca. A thrilling match overall, capped off with Messi’s header goal where he lost his shoe. Who said he can only score with his left foot?

What is your all-time starting XI?

I’d have the team playing in a 4-3-3 classic Barcelona formation. Victor Valdes between the sticks. A center back pairing of Puyol (C) the lion heart and Pique. At right back, I’d have Dani Alves with the freedom to bomb down the flank at will. Abidal at left back, solid as ever. My three center midfielders would consist of Busquets, Xavi, and Iniesta. For the front three, I’d have to go with Messi, Ronaldinho, and Cruyff.

Who do you think is Barca’s most exciting youngster?

In recent years, there has been a drastic decline in talent coming through La Masia. Sergi Roberto has been the most prominent emergence since the golden generation. However, in the last two years we’ve seen a lot of promise through both the academy and beyond.

The biggest revelation has been Ansu Fati. Cool-headed and filled with talent, he possesses the ability to take players on effortlessly. Coming through La Masia has groomed him for the first team and at only age 17, the sky is the limit. Other names would be Trincao, Riqui Puig, and Pedri, all of whom are capable of becoming top class.

In your eyes, who is Barca’s fiercest rival and why?

Real Madrid. El Clasico. “La Manita”. Messi versus Ronaldo. Ronaldo getting stuck in the Barca passing triangle. That’s the tweet.

Who is a player from your rival that you secretly admire and wish you had in your team?

I think we missed out big on Isco back in the day, always thought he was a much better fit for Barca. Also, I love watching Takefusa Kubo play. That kid is going to be our biggest regret.

Which player from your team do you think would survive the longest on a deserted island?

Arturo Vidal – he is the definition of a warrior. If he lived back in the days of the Spartans, he would’ve been the one kicking King Leonidas into the hole. On an island, he would domesticate anything that crossed his path, including Poseidon’s favorite sea demon.

Who is the most underrated and overrated player on your team?

Due to recent performances, I think there are quite a few players in the squad that are deeply underrated. I’d say Nelson Semedo is probably the most underappreciated player we have and will likely depart from the club soon. However, the most underrated player is probably Clement Lenglet. People seem to disregard his contribution and line-breaking passing ability. He’s also a young, solid defender – there is a reason that Umtiti struggled to regain his starting spot even after an impressive few years at the club.

I believe that the most overrated player today is Rakitic. I recognize his ability and influence at Barca over the years, but he no longer has what it takes to unquestionably be in the starting XI week in, week out. Valverde benching the likes of Busquets and Arthur doesn’t make any sense.

How do you think the current season should be resolved? Should it be voided, resumed once the pandemic is over, or completed behind closed doors? What will Barca have won if they do finish the season? 

Unfortunately, I think the best way to resolve the season would be just to void it – no champions, no promotion. Unlucky Liverpool. Many clubs have already slashed player wages in order to pay out the club employees and if they were to resume, I fear many clubs may run out of funding. Hitting the “reset” button would be more understanding than any other option in my opinion. If they were to finish, Barca would have come away with the La Liga title but it wouldn’t feel deserved.

If you could spend an hour with one player or coach (past/present), who would it be? And what would you ask them?

I would choose to sit down for some tea with Neymar. He’s my favorite current player and I’d love to ask him about his childhood, rise to stardom, and most importantly, why he left Barca. Then I’d ask him for some music recommendations because I know his playlist is heat.

How have you been keeping busy during this quarantine? (especially footywise)

A lot of my free time has been spent watching old Barca highlights and scouting players that are rumored to come this upcoming transfer window (plus youth players we sent on loan). I also recently finished a career mode with Betis – Fekir + RB + B? Bins.

What are your predictions for next season? Who will win the league, finish top-4 and where will Barca finish?

Next season is going to be an absolute thrill. Both Madrid and Barca have done some quality business in the past few transfer windows and there has been an injection of youth in both squads. At Barca, I hope to see the potential midfield partnership of Frenkie, Arthur, and Busquets flourish and as always, have Messi put in another Balon D’or year.

Prediction:

  1. FC Barcelona
  2. Real Madrid
  3. Sevilla
  4. Atletico Madrid

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