FC Barcelona is one of the biggest clubs not just in Europe, but in world football with big names like Johan Cruyff, Pep Guardiola, Ronaldo, Romario, Ronaldinho, Xavi, Iniesta, and the GOAT Leo Messi amongst to name a few. The club has enjoyed massive success during the years, with these players breaking records and being the best in their positions, and shocking the entire week-in week-out with their performances.
The board of Barcelona has been very key in their success, how they approach transfers, and of course youth development. La Masia has produced the greatest talents in world football, some of who have been already mentioned above. The club has a philosophy that is religiously followed throughout the club, whether it’s the youth team, or the first team. La Masia as some of the players say is a ‘way of life’. The club relies more on home-grown talent as opposed to buying players from the outside. Johan Laporte and his board was when the club had the most success. He brought in Johan Cruyff in the 90s, and then club legend Pep Guardiola as the first team manager in 2008. The club became the best in the world with Pep, playing the best football ever seen, and Leo Messi became unstoppable. Sir Alex Ferguson said in the post match interview after losing to the blaugrana in the 2011 UEFA Champions League final that he couldn’t do anything. Barcelona saw their golden years during the Guardiola era.
In 2014, the new board came in with Josep Maria Bartomeu with a new direction. Luis Enrique was appointed as the manager, who took more than half the season to adapt, and ended up winning the treble, with the most dynamic front 3 in Messi, Suarez, and Neymar. The next 2 seasons the team won the league but couldn’t win in Europe. After Luis Enrique, the board appointed Ernesto Valverde as manager, who we all knew is not a ‘Barcelona profile’ manager. Adding to this, Neymar went to PSG, a move he regrets to this day, which made us sign Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele for more than 100 million, a signing that has turned out to be a disaster due to constant major injuries.
This saw a downfall in the club’s pedigree, and also a run of bad transfers, with no good La Masia players coming in. The board signed the Brazilian winger Malcom for 40 mil, who was forced out the following season despite his great, but limited performances. The most horrendous signing was Coutinho for more than 150 mil., a club record money signing that ended the player going to Bayern after a pretty bad spell at the Camp Nou. Club legends like Iniesta, Messi, Bousquets are getting old, and a rebuild is imminent, but the club has been signing older players who do not fit the Barca philosophy.
Players like Antonie Griezmann, Arturo Vidal, the emergency signing Martin Braithwate are all examples of poor decision making by the board. Luis Suarez, Leo Messi, Pique, Bousi need to be replaced, and La Masia is overlooked. There is talk of signing Lautaro Martinez from Inter or Timo Werner from RB Leipzig but the club has no money to finance these big money moves. A loan was taken to sign Griezmann, who has proven to be a bad signing.
None of this is the players’ fault, it’s the board that made statement signings without any plan, and did not analyse whether the player will ‘fit’ the Barca way. Not all players, no matter how great they are, can adapt to playing for Barcelona, it’s not easy. The club also stopped promoting players from La Masia which was a disaster. Carles Alena was promoted in the 2018-19 season, but went out on loan in January 2020, just before Valverde was sacked, something the club has not done in 17 years. Young defender Todibo was forced out on loan, and Carles Perez to Roma. Perez said that ‘they didn’t give a proper reason to send me out on loan to Roma’. The way the club has treated their own has been a complete and utter shambles, and they’ve gotta go this summer.
The start of the new decade also saw 2 more incidents within the club. One was Messi’s response on Instagram to Abidal’s comments about the player performances, and work ethic under Valverde. This brought in a lot of controversy and gave the world an insight about the unrest in the dressing room. The club captain did the right thing by coming out in public with his thoughts and concerns. The board solved the issue internally, with Abidal almost losing his job. The other issue was the fact that the club hired a PR firm called I3 Ventures to damage the reputation of some of the players, and potential presidential candidates like Victor Fonte and Juan Laporte. This is probably the saddest story in the history of not just FC Barcelona, but club football in the world. The club did this to protect the board and club president Bartomeu’s reputation, and terminated the contract with the PR firm immediately, denying their wrong intentions in the media.
FC Barcelona fan base, pundits, and the media were outraged learning about this, and there was a crisis that saw people wanting Bartomeu and Co gone. There’s a possibility of calling early elections in the summer of 2020 instead of 2021 due to the club’s treatment of the players, the sacking of Valverde and appointment of Quique Setien, and the unfortunate incident between Messi and technical secretary Eric Abidal. It was bad how the club handled it, and people were saying that Messi might leave the club in the summer, something he can do for free, according to his contract. This board does not have a plan, or a sporting project in place, and is just killing the club. The 2019-20 season has been a disaster and how Lionel Messi is dragging the team through all this frustration is just beyond our imagination.
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