Where Does The Catalan Giant Go From Here?
FC Barcelona is regarded as one of the biggest and most impactful clubs in Football. In almost any country in the world, you will see people wearing Barcelona kits. Primarily Messi and Ronaldinho kits.
When you think of this club you think of stars like Carlos Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Samuel Eto'o, etc. The list can go on almost forever which is an attribute to how high the standard has been at this club for years.
The club has been at the highest level for the majority of people’s lives, which is why it is such a shock to see what is happening now.
We are in unprecedented times. FC Barcelona was knocked out in the group stages of the Champions League and will now play in the Europa League. While the Europa League is still an important European trophy it isn’t where a club of the size and history of Barcelona should be.
This has been coming, because over the years, the club has made bad decisions that have ultimately led to the temporary demise of the club.
What Decisions Led Barcelona Here?
This has been a long time coming. Barcelona is a huge buyer in the transfer market as any big club is. However, their decisions since 2017 have led to some big players leaving, and heavy fees being spent with no production.
In 2017 Neymar left for PSG, and the club brought in £200m. To try and replace Neymar they purchased Phillipe Coutinho (£145m) and Ousmane Dembele (€112m). Barca still managed to spend £142.3m more than they brought in.
Both of these players are still on the books, and they haven’t produced at the level that was expected. Coutinho has been linked with a move back to the Premier League with clubs like Arsenal, and Aston Villa.
Dembele is in contract negotiations, but it seems that he is likely to leave the club on a free transfer this summer.
With both players looking set to leave the club it is looking like two failed transfers.
In 2019, Barcelona purchased Antoine Griezmann from Athletico Madrid for £108m. His signing was also a disappointment. Ironically, Griezmann ended up going back to Athletico Madrid on loan. One of the biggest reasons he was let go was to free up some money by offloading his salary.
Overall £242.1 million was spent across both transfer windows. Those are big-money signings and those payments were obviously spread out in installments over multiple years.
In came the COVID-19 pandemic where there were no fans, and every football club in the world struggled with the loss of revenue. This wasn't a good time to owe money, because where are you going to get the funds to pay?
Barcelona president Joan Laporta had said that the total debt for the club was €1.3 billion and that they had lost over €450m in the last year alone.
They were essentially Bankrupt.
Bankrupt to the point where they had to offload salary. This led to one of the best players ever having to leave the club. Lionel Messi was in contract negotiations for months trying his best to help the club reach an agreement. In the end, they couldn't afford his wages which led to him leaving the club to join Paris Saint Germain.
This moment was rock-bottom for fans and supporters of the club.
Where Do The Catalan Giants Go From Here?
When rock-bottom is hit there is nowhere to go but up. The only question was how long would it take this club to get back to the top?
As of right now, it seems there is an ambition within the club to get back to the top as quickly as possible. Barcelona president Joan Laporta recently did an interview in which he said "Everybody in the world should get ready, as we are back as big players in the market. Barcelona is back"
This January in the winter transfer window they have agreed to a deal with Manchester City for Ferran Torres for €55 million-plus €10 million in add-ons.
The financial crisis seems to have been somewhat solved and that Barcelona is ready to invest in its future. Based on transfer talks it looks like they are targeting young players with the potential to improve and help the club in the years coming instead of making impulsive "win now" purchases.
They have also recently been linked with a summer move for Erling Haaland. Laporta has already talked to his agent Mino Raiola and his father.
Barcelona is currently 5th in La Liga, only a point away from Champions League qualification. If they can qualify the draw of playing for a club like Barcelona in the Camp Nou is something very hard for any player to pass up.
This move is very possible but they face competition from many other clubs including their rivals Real Madrid, so it will be something interesting to keep an eye on.
At the moment right now it seems that Barcelona is going through a bad stage but the long-term potential is there. With the likes of Ansu Fati, Pedri, and Ferran Torres. Other signings that Laporta hopes to make in the future there is no telling where they can be a couple of years from now.
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