FC Barcelona, a club that once dominated the world of football. They were once considered the fiercest team in the world. The famous ‘Tiki-Taka’ strategy was introduced to the world by Barcelona. This strategy made the other team grasp for possession but most of the teams failed in doing so.
Barcelona’s Youth Academy has been a source of great players throughout generations. Many great players have come through this academy. Players such as Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Busquets and none other than Lionel Messi.
They have shown spectacular and magical football throughout the 21st Century but some moments have been far greater than most.
Any team that will produce a magical season like FC Barcelona’s 2008-09 season will be compared to them as they conjured the greatest season of all-time in club football by being the first team that won 6 trophies in a season. They won every competition in which they set their foot.
The Blaugrana was considered ‘unplayable’ by various coaches of some of the best teams in the world. This particular season was etched into the books of history as FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi scored 91 goals in a season for club and country in a total of 69 matches. A massive record which no other player could surpass for another century was established in the world of football.
Sir Alex Ferguson-
“The Barcelona we met in Wembley in 2011 was unplayable. It’s the one team that made the greatest impression on me!”
FC Barcelona housed one of the best attacking trios of all time. The trio MSN (Messi, Suarez, and Neymar) was one of the most deadly attacking combinations of the world and any team that faced FC Barcelona feared all three of them.
These have been some of the milestones of the amazing journey that FC Barcelona has been on, giving fans various memories which will be embedded in their minds for their whole lives. The imprints of those memories make the fans crave even more for such memories, moments, goals and trophies.
So many trophies, goals and victories have set a bar for FC Barcelona to deliver them every season. The trophy cabinet recently has been gathering a bit of dust. In recent years The Blaugrana has been coming up short.
They had to face various problems down the years due to years of substantial recurring damages in various areas which led to a fallout within the club.
The Dilemma at FC Barcelona
- Lack of youngsters from ‘La Masia’
Their academy has always been a source of young budding talents who eventually spend the rest of their playing career in the Blaugrana. In recent years the academy has not been able to produce any such talents which forced the club’s hand to go onto the transfer market and spend big money. This has been going on for the past 2-3 years.
Last year showed a change of pace as players like Pedri, Ansu Fati, Ronald Araujo, Riqui Puig and Oscar Migueza emerged as the saviours. The team was injury struck due to a congested season as the Covid-19 pandemic caused the season to stop in the middle. So these players stepped and helped Ronald Koeman to procure the Copa Del Rey this season.
Pedri, Ronald Araujo and Oscar Mingueza were regular starters this season. Riqui Puig has shown various signs of a developing player and could be a midfield maestro over the years.
Ansu Fati was already getting into the spotlight by his scoring abilities all across the competitions. He showed skills and had the Barca mentality in him which made him a perfect fit for the team. Unfortunately, he succumbed to injury in November in a match against Real Betis which sidelined him for the rest of the season.
- High expenditure by the board
A lack of academy players forced the board to spend big and bring in famous players to assure the fans and the team that the board of FC Barcelona is supportive but they were just digging a hole for themselves. They spent huge amounts of transfer fees and gave high salary packages to players to lure them to the team. Phillipe Coutinho was bought in for €160 million, Ousmane Dembele was bought in for €157 million, Antoine Griezmann for €120 million and various other players were bought in to substantiate the lack of skill and talent in the team.
It all came back haunting them when at the end of the year 2020, the board was left with a debt of MORE THAN €1 BILLION. The board president Josep Bartomeu had to retire.
He was replaced with a much more assuring president Joan Laporte who has bought positivity as well as a mission to bring back the club to its former glory. (Laporte was the president of FC Barcelona during the golden period when Barca won the Sextuple).
- Over-dependence on Lionel Messi
The team was not performing well except for Lionel Messi. The title of the best player in the world needs to be earned and if it’s not Lionel Messi then I don’t know who is. The only constant in the Blaugrana squad was Lionel Messi. No matter the result Messi always gave his best and tried to do everything possible to grab a win for the team. At times he succeeded in single-handily bringing home the 3 points but football is a team sport and no matter how great a player is, he cannot do everything on his own.
The underperforming teammates of Lionel Messi often left him frustrated. He was the only source of inspiration in this Barca squad. If he didn’t perform well then he could not rely much on his teammates to grab a win. Even after buying multiple big-money players, none of them proved themselves on the field.
Eventually at the end of the 2019-20 season after being thrashed by Bayern with a margin of 8-2, Lionel Messi gave up and tried to get a transfer out of the club. The board was resilient to keep him and after a turbulent summer transfer window with the Messi transfer saga taking new turns every day, Messi was made to stay for another season till the end of his contract which gave him a year to decide whether he will extend or will he leave the club in which he has spent his career.
All these factors were major contributors to the downfall of the club.
The Rebirth conundrum
- A new chapter has commenced in FC Barcelona. Glimpses of development were seen in the 2020-21 season as more La Masia players were bought into the first team.
- The appointment of Joan Laporte and his sporting project has left an impression of optimism among the fans, board members and most of all the players.
- Lionel Messi’s contract extension has almost been finalised according to the report of Fabrizio.
- The players have been asked to take a salary cut to suffice the debts of the board and to fund for new players to reduce the discrepancies.
- Transfers like Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero have been bought on free transfers.
- The board is hoping to sign 2-3 more players in this window.
All these changes could be leading FC Barcelona back up to the top OR it could just be another failed attempt to bring belief for a short period which eventually plummets back to disappointment at the end of the season.
These decisions show command as well as determination of the board over various sectors of the club.
The question that still hangs over our heads is will it lead the club to an era of dominating European football or it would just lead to a deeper downward spiral which could eventually leave the club stranded making the club fight just for getting into the top 4 of the LaLiga table?
I guess only time could answer this question well enough.