For years , Barcelona have been in Real Madrid’s shadow. They saw their illustrious rivals win many League titles and many Champions League titles too and have left them playing catch up as they try to get near Los Blancos’ success. Real Madrid have 33 Laliga titles and 13 Champions Leagues titles with Barca way behind on 25 and five respectively.
At the end of the first decade of this century (starting from the 2009 season) a Barca team that was managed by their former stalwart Pep Guardiola won everything that club football had to offer from 2009-2012.
Success in the 2005- 2006, 2008- 2009, 2010-2011 and 2014-2015 Champions League seasons have been dwarfed by arch-rivals Real since who had a stranglehold dominance in Europe towards the end of the last decade.
The Madrid side winning three European titles in succession after The Catalans’ last success in Europe, which put Zidane besides Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley in an elite group of managers who won Europe’s top competition thrice.
To rub salt in the wounds for Barcelona, the last of their five Champions League trophies was followed by the three titles (2015-2016, 2016-217, 2017-2018) in a row for Zizou’s men. The Catalan giants’ struggles in Europe (for their very high standards) has been masked by winning National League titles.
Barcelona have tasted success domestically, in fact, no one has won more Copa del Rey titles than they have (30). There has been real disappointment in the Champions League, the defeat to Liverpool in the 2018-2019 semi-final and the way they lost this game, started to show signs of the begining of the end.
All isn’t well at a club that was on top of the world between 2009 and 2011, but how bad is it? Well, let me explain. Barcelona in their “golden era” had players like Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol and Valdes at their disposal.
Those players, essentially formed the spine of the Barca team, and guess what? These players were all academy graduates from their fame La Masia academy. So the cost of these players? A compensation fee, if that.
In the case of these three players, that’s £300 million-plus of outlay of a player who is always injured (Ousmane Dembele), one who isn’t there at the moment (Philip Coutinho) and Antoine Greizman who’s a shadow of the player who was at Atletico Madrid.
It doesn’t get much better for them defensively either, Umtiti’s confidence is shot and it just doesn’t seem clear who is Gerrard Pique’s central defensive partner. Clement Langlet seems to be the man in possession of the shirt as they say, but so was Sam Umtiti too at one point.
The famed, tried and tested way of bringing academy players through where’s that gone? Players like Hamdadi – sold, Bojan- sold. All of a sudden a very serious problem is emerging at The Camp Nou.
This once conveyor belt of talent has mysteriously vanished.
Debts are reportedly €600 million (£540.9 million), and with players like Suarez, Rakitic, Pique and even Messi over 30, dark days look to be ahead in Catalunya. The sale of Arthur which I felt was air to Xavi’s throne only strengthens the argument, in exchange for a 30-year old Miralem Pijanic.
The former Roma man hasn’t come cheap either, costing an eye-watering €60 (£54.9 million). Brazilian Arthur who excelled last season, will add some youth to Juve’s midfield, a topic my colleague Mattheus will go into more detail about.
To cut the long story short, I feel Barcelona have been left worse off and deals like this could push them financially to the edge if they’re not careful. In players like Ansu Fati, Carlos Alena and Riqui Puig (who’s been seen as the next Iniesta) and Frekkie DeJong, maybe the current gloom could be lifted if they’re trusted like Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol and Valdes were.
If Barcelona spend in this cavalier, the consequences could be severe, just look at Parma and Fiorentina, do I need to say more?