The past season was one of change for Barcelona, with the summer bound to continue that trend as well. After three seasons at the Camp Nou, manager Luis Enrique stepped aside and will be replaced by former Athletic Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde.
The pressures that can come from leading the Blaugrana can be intense, and a disappointing 2016-17 campaign makes that pressure even greater. Barcelona lifted their record 29th Copa del Rey but watched eternal rival Real Madrid win both the UEFA Champions League and La Liga.
Valverde has plenty of experience in the Spanish top flight, but the task of returning his new Catalan side to the top will not be easy.
We examine five keys areas that must be addressed by Barcelona’s new manager in the 2017-18 season.
Simply put, Barcelona is in the business of winning trophies. Ultimately, that will be how the club’s hierarchy will judge Valverde’s first season at the helm.
Another Copa del Rey triumph would be a good start, but reclaiming the league title is an essential as soon as possible.
A season without any title may put too much pressure on Valverde to succeed in the future.
Defeat Real Madrid
Even when enduring a difficult campaign, an El Clasico victory can heal all for Barcelona and their supporters.
The Cules earned a dramatic and thrilling victory over Los Blancos this past season, with Lionel Messi providing the late winner.
Continuing these types of results will be critical for Ernesto Valverde at Barcelona.
Earn trust with the club and supporters
Valverde’s appointment as manager was met with criticism by the club’s fans, and the Spanish tactician will need to show that he is capable of his new role.
The new boss has shown with Bilbao that he can construct a competitive side, but will now need to focus on returning Barcelona to the top of La Liga and Europe.
With different objectives than he has had before at previous stops, Valverde will need to show his new club that he can be trusted to bring success.
Improve midfield and defence
Barca’s attack was a real force this past season, but the play of midfielders and defenders undermined their sparkling form at the top of the line-up.
Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano all struggled with both injuries and consistency in 2016-17.
Whether in the transfer market or how formations are utilised, Valverde will need to see more production in the middle.
Keep MSN together
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar form one of the best front-lines in world football. In order to keep Barcelona at the top for a sustained period, their incredible success will need to continue.
The South American attackers combined for an astounding 111 goals across all competitions this past season.
Amidst rumours that Messi and Neymar were looking at other options this summer, keeping this talent together is critical for the team’s new coach.
Ernesto Valverde begins to face a brave new world as Barcelona manager. He will be prepared, but success will be what will keep him in the position beyond the upcoming campaign.