Barcelona, a team that most feared playing for years and years have now become a below average team struggling to pick up a win in either La Liga or the Champions league. The same Barcelona who have won the league 10 out of the last 15 attempts.
So where did it all go wrong and how did it happen so fast?
It was reported back in August that Barcelona’s debt had spiralled to €1.35bn with player wages representing around 103% of the clubs revenue (without Messi) it is therefore not too difficult to see that over time the club were spending fortunes that they simply did not have the money to pay. Even with Messi offering to take a 50% pay cut the club wouldn’t have been able to offer him the contract as FFP would have finally prevented them from doing so.
The club had been operating so far beyond it’s means for years that it is little wonder that they were so keen on being a forming member of the European Super League. Each founding member was due to receive an initial €3.5 billion which would have allowed Barcelona to continue operating at the ridiculous levels it has been for such a long time. As we now know, the ESL collapsed due to fan pressure and with it so did Barcelona’s hopes and dreams of hiding the sheer amount of debt it had accumulated. The immediate price they paid for this was the loss of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann with Messi being the standout loss for so many reasons.
Messi was Barcelona, Barcelona was Messi. It was known by all but what was probably not known was the true extent of this. The club really did not have a plan for life after Messi (well if they did, someone better tell them that it’s definitely not working). The fact that their new signings were actually unable to ‘sign’ for the club, due to a lack of funds available, meant that others had to be sold or released in order to free up the wage room for them to then be registered to play.
Looking at the first 11 against Atletico Madrid the days of striking gear into their opponents are firmly in the rear-view mirror.
As you can see, there is very very little to get excited about if you are a Barcelona fan right now. Due to their financial situation I really cannot see a way that this will change in the near future.
The one shining light of hope for the club is Pedri who at just 18 is already fast becoming one of their most important players. It is therefore worrying that even Pedri is being targeted by clubs with Bayern Munich declaring an interest in taking the midfielder off their hands to “help” them in their time of financial need. It looks unlikely that they would look to sell one of their only prospects for the future for a short term gain. However, if things don’t improve on the pitch soon then they may be left with no choice but to sell not only Pedri but any player they can to generate the revenue to stave off the implications that not doing so would bring.
Do I see Barcelona getting back to where they once were? Yes I do, but I feel like the journey for them and their fans will not be easy and will definitely not be a quick one. Just as Juventus had to rebuild (for different reasons) I feel that the same will also apply to Barcelona, the club will still hold some pulling power to those in the game but all the while they are not performing the top talent may have to be home grown for now. Who’s to say that Messi 2.0 cannot therefore be born from the ashes?