Barcelona are a historic, successful team but are tipped for a complete rebuild following a humiliating Champions League elimination. So far, here is what we know and here are some rumors about what could happen.
- Head coach Quique Setien has already been fired after failing to win the Champions League, La Liga, or the Copa del Rey. The former Real Betis coach was hired in January of 2020 after coach Ernesto Valverde was sacked, but Setien has not been popular with the fans or the players, resulting in his departure.
- Setien’s replacement has already been chosen. Dutch national team coach Ronald Koeman has been hired, despite Koeman’s lack of success in a prior stint in Spain. Koeman is a three time Dutch champion, but when Koeman coached Valencia in 2008, the team that included legends David Villa and David Silva were in 16th place until Koeman was sacked. However, no one can dispute Koeman’s international coaching experience.
- Despite strong rumors that Sporting Director Eric Abidal would be fired, Barcelona have announced that the Frenchman will not be fired. Abidal has been blamed for many of Barcelona’s issues and has had many disagreements with players, most notably star Lionel Messi.
- Barcelona already have several confirmed arrivals. Several wingers are joining, including young Portugal star Francisco Trincao and 17-year old winger Pedri, signed from Las Palmas. Midfielders Matheus Fernandes and Miralem Pjanic are also signing, with the latter costing almost $70 million.
- Several players will be leaving the Catalan capital. Young Brazilian midfielder Arthur Melo has swapped teams with Pjanic and will play in the Serie A for Juventus next season. Loan players Marc Cucurella and Carles Perez will be leaving for Getafe and Roma respectively, after having their loans made permanent. The team’s other departure, however, sums up everything wrong with Barcelona’s transfer policy. In 2015, Barcelona spent almost $38 million on Turkish midfielder Arda Turan, who had impressed with rivals Atletico Madrid. However, Turan’s best years were already behind him, as he was 28 when signed. In five years, Turan has played just 55 games for Barcelona, been loaned out to Istanbul Basaksehir, been arrested in Turkey twice, had his loan terminated, released by Barcelona, and now has returned to Turkey, signing with Galatasaray for free. Barcelona ought to have learned, but they have just paid $70 million for a 30-year old Miralem Pjanic, whilst they allow young talent like Carles Perez to slip away.
- Barcelona are reportedly facing a huge summer exodus. Striker Luis Suarez is linked with a return to Ajax. Philippe Coutinho will likely be loaned out again as he is too expensive to be bought permanently. Gerard Pique has said that he would be willing to leave Barcelona. Two expensive flops in Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele are expected to be sold or loaned out. However, the biggest rumor is that Lionel Messi is looking to depart after Barcelona’s Champions League failure. With Abidal now staying at Barcelona, Messi will almost certainly leave.
- Sadly, it appears Barcelona haven’t learned their lesson as they are set for a big offseason. It wouldn’t be a transfer window if Neymar Jr. wasn’t linked with a return to Spain, but he might be less inclined to as Neymar and PSG are finally achieving Champions League success. Barcelona are looking at other attacking options, with Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez a name brought up often, but defense is a more pressing issue, as demonstrated in a 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich. Former Barcelona youth player Eric Garcia is rumored to return, but Garcia outlines several other issues with Barcelona’s transfer policy. If Barcelona had kept Garcia, they would have a talented defender. However, they sold Garcia when he was 16(!) for under $2 million, and are trying to buy him three years later for around $30 million.
Barcelona will definitely look far different next season, but it could be tricky for the team to transition smoothly. This is what happened to Manchester United, who are just now returning to elite status after struggling after the retirement of coach Sir Alex Ferguson. What rumors have you heard, and do you think Barcelona can continue to compete immediately?
Image Courtesy of Анна Нэсси / CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL.
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