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Transfer Window Talk – Barca strengthened, but still need to build

Barca definitely will have every weapon in their armory for winning the European and domestic battle that stands in front of them

AR
Last updated: 24.07.2018
Transfer Window Talk – Barca strengthened, but still need to build | Sports Social Blog

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FC Barcelona is a team most other teams fear. Be it in the domestic domain or in Europe, teams would rather avoid meeting Barca because they have dominated club football for the last 10 years or so. A huge reason for this has been their smart purchases, for instance, Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti, the unreal quantity and quality of talent in their academy, La Masia, which has churned out greats like Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique, their cohesive ‘more than a club’ motto on and off the pitch and finally, the antics of the mercurial Lionel Messi. However, any big club, at some point in time, makes unwarranted purchases. Barca did that in 2014-15, with the purchase of Douglas, who has not even featured on the bench for a large part of his stay, while he has not shown much promise in the clubs he has been loaned out for. They made that mistake again with the purchase of Andre Gomes, who after being a subordinate to Rakitic and Iniesta in his first season, was believed to get more chances in the future, but his rather unimpressive showings and the arrival of Philippe Coutinho push that back into the doubt-zone again.



While Barca are in possession of talent in La Masia, both their managers from the last 4 seasons, Luis Enrique and Ernesto Valverde, have hardly used what they have. The likes of Alena and Sergi Samper are extremely promising future prospects, but have just have not gotten enough exposure at the top level. Munir el Haddadi exceeded expectations with his performances in 2014-15 and 2015-16, before being loaned out repeatedly. He is, however back with the squad for pre-season, and should he stay, he might be the much sought after super-sub that Barca require – a role Pedro Rodriguez performed brilliantly in the treble-winning 2014-15 campaign and one which Paco Alcacer has failed to perform ever since. Sandro Ramirez, who also showed signs of promise in Luis Enrique’s first season, is now at Everton and seems to have developed into a much better forward. Out of all of these La Masia graduates, Sergi Roberto has excelled the most, performing well in both midfield, as well as in the right-back position. Who can forget his scything run that led to Messi’s winner at the Bernabeu in 2016-17 season? With the likes of Xavi and Iniesta out of the frame and Busquets aging, Barca need to find quality midfielders to take them forward. And rather than looking everywhere around them, a few glances at the Masia might bring them what they require.

In the last 3 seasons, Barca have gone out in the quarter-final stage consecutively. Three things seem to have led to this. One, the over-dependence on Messi to bail them out. The little Argentine is capable of it, but he is one of the players who plays 90 minutes in almost every game during the season. He is bound to be tired as the season nears its conclusion and Barca needs to have proper backup to deal with the situation. Second, the unimpressive performances of younger player. Iniesta has taken the load of creating chances primarily on himself in the last two seasons because one, Neymar struggled in his last campaign with the club on the left. Two, the likes of Andre Gomes and Paulinho were rather poor in midfield, forcing Messi to drop deep for the ball, while Rakitic and Busquets were repeatedly put under pressure. All this led to mistakes on field that did not work in the team’s favor. Third and finally, defensive mistakes. Though Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti are world class defenders, they are only human and minor errors are bound to occur. But top teams punish exactly these and Paris did that when they thrashed Barca 4-0 and Juventus did that weeks later with a 3-0 punishing in the same season. While Nelson Semedo is brilliant, he does not seem to have won Valverde’s trust while Jordi Alba’s biggest plus is also sometimes his undoing – his pace. Barca need corrections for these problems.

In the 2018 transfer window, Barca have made two transfers that were necessary. With the departure of Javier Mascherano, Barca needed a solid defender and have gotten that in Clement Lenglet. While Thomas Vermaelen was brilliant last season in his back-up role, it is obvious that another quality defender was required. Lenglet is definitely the right-choice. With Iniesta and Paulinho also leaving the club, the Barca midfield seems to have a few holes. Arthur Melo, the 21 year old Brazilian, is another exciting prospect that Barca have signed in this window. Arthur made waves in Brazil with his brilliant vision and off-the-ball movement, something Iniesta continued to offer deep into his final season with the club. In 2017-18, Barca clearly missed the presence of Philippe Coutinho in the Champions League (he had already represented Liverpool earlier in the competition), but that will not be a problem this time around and Coutinho, arguable Brazil’s best player at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, will be raring to go in Europe, wearing the Blaugrana.


For achieving all the success they need next season, some more pieces of the puzzle have to fall in place for the Catalans. Alacacer needs to step up his game, because Luis Suarez is not getting any younger and was a shadow of the player he was previously, last season as well as in Russia. Barca, hence, should consider purchasing a young center-forward as well as a back-up winger – both of which they would have gotten if Antoine Griezmann had agreed to leave Atletico Madrid. They would also require another robust midfielder with physicality, which Paulinho offered last season, as it would enhance their defensive midfield even more. If the Catalans can account all of this, Barca definitely will have every weapon in their armory for winning the European and domestic battle that stands in front of them at the start of the 2018-19 season.

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