Barcelona, a club once praised for its unique methods on and off the field has recently descended into a crisis riddled with corruption and wasteful transfer policies. More so, for a club that produced Blaugranas’ golden era, La Masia was held up as the metered-standard in talent development and scouting.
This was the result of a unique blend of La Masia values, a well-defined philosophy, talent nurturing, and pedagogical know-how that bore its fruit in one of the most balanced teams in Europe to five leagues in terms of talents, values, performance, and results.
When one thinks of the Spanish team, Barcelona team, and Real Madrid you the think of the modern-day gladiators who took the world by surprise, and a team whose style is solidly built upon a great foundation of tiki-taka and a direct free-flowing football, but ironically the style wasn’t as fancy in the ’80s compared to what it is now which has brought about a lot of success on the international stage, for both the national team and the elite club sides in Spanish football.
Have you ever sit down and wonder why Barcelona, one the biggest club side in Spain makes stupid and unnecessary transfer decisions? For a club who are known for signing top-notch football stars, now settles for relatively average and unneeded players that haven’t helped in pushing the club forward success wise.
Gone are the days where the unveiling of a world-class, top-notch, and fantastic players were been witnessed in front of adoring Nou Camp faithful since the inception of the club in 1899, by a certain Swiss Businessman Hans-Max Gamper who brought glamour and pride to the city of Barcelona.
But unfortunately, Barcelona a club known for its success stories, and a well-organized institution with 22 La Liga titles, 26 Copa Del Rey titles, one European Cup, and three UEFA Champions League triumphs. And at some point, some of their players were the one dominating the FIFA World Player of the at FIFA gala event, is now known for its failure in the transfer market where they signed players they necessarily don’t need, perhaps their success has conveniently swept and clouded their incompetence in their transfer dealings.
The Blaugrana’s transfer mishap started afresh when Neymar left for Paris Saint Germain, though that doesn’t mean they do not make signings that have really worked perfectly in the past and the ones that failed to blend into the team perfectly. Now, things have really deteriorated as their obsession in replacing the Brazilian forward has made the management to keep making the same mistakes over and over again in trying to replace Neymar, and as such, they’ve ended up signing wrong players that don’t even fit well into their style of play and philosophy.
When Neymar left, it was evident that the Catalan attack will need another player that will feel the vacant post, as such they brought in Gerd Deulofeu a former La Masia product. When he joined, he played a couple of games with decent performances for the Catalan giant, and they thought he’s going to be that man they needed, but unfortunately, he failed to deliver after much expectation.
Despite Deulofeu’s failed experiment, the management kept more emphasis on signing attacking players which brought to fore their obsession in replacing players who are gone even when they don’t fit in the starting eleven and having enjoyed few decades of rich success in signings that has produced success for the team. But now the management seems not to care and they seem so relaxed in determining if player X or Y will be right for the team.
For Barca faithful who wonders and cherishes the well known “La Masia” academy, it’s somewhat pitiful and upsetting that the club who don the motto “Mes qué un club” is presently in the irresistible prevailing fashion of signing unwanted players instead of sustaining and ingraining self-belief and ambitions in the heart and psyche of the La Masia academy.
As it stands, it’s looking like what the Barcelona management does is to just sign a player then hope that the player would come good, particularly since the exit of Neymar they’ve in one way or the other adopted that kind of strategy which hasn’t been working for them, case in point was the signing of Kevin Prince Boateng, which was just a waste of resources if I must say.
If Sid Lowe’s statement on Joan Gaspart a former Barcelona President, the successor to Josep Lluis Nunez in 1999 or thereabout were anything to go by that “Gaspart has built a horribly imbalanced squad with 73 creative and not so creative midfielders but only one decent defender, Puyol” then it can also be said that Sandro Rosell and Josep Bartomeo the former and current Catalan President has also built a horribly imbalanced team with only Messi and few other players who are head and shoulder above their colleagues in the team.
Without mincing word, it has been five years or thereabout since Barcelona last won a champion league or tasted success in Europe, then the question you would ask yourself is why has it take so long for Barcelona to lay their hands on the prestigious continental title again? The answer is quite simple, it’s because they have a depleted team that lacks great players just like the team that won it in 2015.
More so, some of those players ain’t that swashbuckling like they were before, case in point Ivan Rakitic who hasn’t find playing time easy to come by, Jordi Alba is not as ferocious on the left backline as before due to a niggling injury, Luis Suarez a very fantastic striker, but then the Uruguayan forward isn’t getting any younger anymore, and of course since Xavi and Iniesta left the team, over 28 players have been signed since they won the champions league and few have really worked perfectly for Barcelona.
With the situation the Catalan giant is in now, we can easily conclude that they failed to build on their champion league success especially the one they won in 2015, however in their quest to build the team to lunch an assault on the champion league once again they’ve failed. Almost 70 percent of the players haven’t worked out.
In 2015, former Atletico Madrid midfielder Arda Turan was signed by Barcelona, but then in hindsight, the Calatan giant should have foreseen that Turan wouldn’t work at the club when he categorically stated he joined the team because he wanted to “Run Less” which to me was an insult to his former team the ‘Rojiblancos‘ because the team is synonymous with running and power play.
However who am I to question their decision, he came with a lot of promise and he was expected to be the successor to Iniesta, though he performed a bit in his second year as a winger. Unfortunately, the following year he was a disaster and he failed to live up to expectation.
Having done impressively well for Sevilla in their Europa League triumph in 2014-15 season, Aleix Vidal joined Barcelona to succeed Dani Alves, as such he willingly spent six months doing nothing for the team as Barcelona went through their last stage of registration ban, so sad for the Spaniard he couldn’t really get back to the blistering form we saw him with at Sevilla, but then we can’t take away the fact that he got injured, perhaps that hindered him from performing. However, in proper assessment, Vidal was a failed project.
Also in 2016, Barcelona’s obsession in trying to replace some of their players who left kept growing, as such their second attempt in replacing Iniesta was another player Denis Suarez which I term, ‘Money Miss Road‘ though the Spaniard tried to be useful to the side in his short stint, in all honesty, he failed to develop the skill set needed to triumph in a very demanding Barcelona midfield and as such failed to replaced Iniesta.
Another player was also signed during that period, and his name is a certain Frenchman Lucas Digne, he was brought in to be a back up for Alba, with the kind of form the Spaniard did show, it is safe to say Digne would struggle to usurp him, and truly he couldn’t replicate or upsurge Alba and he was loan out and in the end, he eventually joined Everton outrightly and Barcelona transfer failure continues.
Another fail transfer is a certain young Brazilian Marlon, he was touted to be the one to replace Gerard Pique, but unfortunately for him, he couldn’t shoulder that load of replacing Pique and he was loaned to Nice or thereabout, and since then the Brazilian has been out of mind and out of sight.
The Portuguese Andrea Gomez, is another player that comes to mind, no doubt he had a fantastic stint with Valencia and at some point, he was touted to join Real Madrid, but in the end, the Portuguese joined the Catalan giant with a lot of expectations, but the pressure for playing for Barcelona took a very huge toll on him and he failed to live up to expectations for the Catalan. He found his way down to Everton, a team with a lesser pressure compare to Barcelona.
Paco Alcacer, an orthodox forward for a decidedly unorthodox position as the case may be at Barcelona, he was brought in as a back up for Luis Suarez. Unfortunately, he didn’t work out and he struggled at Barcelona, though some may say he didn’t have much opportunity to show what he could offer, he finds it hard to secure the first-team shirt and as such he was loaned to Dortmund before he finally joined Villarreal.
With all of the silly transfers, sometimes one would wonder who is the brain behind Barcelona’s recent transfers, as such, it doesn’t look like the club’s management has learned their lesson. Also if we’re to consider the kind of deal they want to involve themselves in again, with their proposal in trading a young Arthur Melo for an old man in Miralem Pjanic which looks like a deal that won’t make a great deal for the Catalan giant if the deal eventually pulls through.
Another Barcelona transfer target in the upcoming window also include Neymar, who has always been their main target, but the financial situation of the club means they have to swap player for player in other to balance the book, so in other words, it would be very complicated to bring back the Brazilian to the Nou Camp, but then it’s a transfer that could still happen as the player himself has never ruled out a return to Barcelona.
Meanwhile, reports have shown that the priority of the Barcelona management is to get Lautaro Martinez who should be a perfect replacement for Luis Suarez. Hopefully, they would get this particular one right this time, and if they fail then their woe continues in signing unwanted players that wouldn’t fit well with the style and philosophy of the club.
If Barca proceeds with the silly transfer pattern, which stems particularly from self-uncertainty and instability in the club’s management, then the celebrated and distinguished FC Barcelona’s decline is close by.
5 Must Do Assignments For Joan Laporta
Joan Laporta officially becomes the Blaugrana’s President following a simple swear-in ceremony to take up the mantle of leadership with the Calatan based club, in his second coming after a first spell between the year 2003-2010 marked with great sporting success both off and on the field.
After the €124.6million financial guarantee was ratified by LaLiga, Laporta won the recent election after an excruciating months-long delay with 30,184 of the 55,611 votes cast were able to assume the reign following the handling of powers from the Managing Commission led by Carles Tusquets.
With Joan Laporta and Barcelona faced with the reality of huge financial challenges within the context of the pandemic, as he faces yet another six years term in office. It would be quite interesting to see how Laporta would drag the Blaugrana out of the financial challenges and somewhat institutional collapse they’ve found themselves.
Here are 5 most important assignments for Joan Laporta
The 2019-20 season ended in a disastrous and disappointing manner for the Blaugrana, with the 8-2 mauling in the hands of ‘Die Roten’ Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
The crisis in the club started unraveling one after another, with all of the issues plaguing the club from within began to come to the fore under former president Josep Maria Bartomeu who was forced to resign.
While the crisis eating the club deeply seems to be degrading the institutional reputation the Blaugrana has built over the years, there were calls for change from the fans, key players of the club, and most importantly the biggest player in the club’s history Messi.
The former President Josep Maria Bartomeu left a huge task for the new President to surmount, among them is huge financial debt, gross mismanagement, a failed sports project of the club, and failure in protecting the club’s identity as a historical institution in transfer dealings.
Healing Mistrust Among Board Of Directors
For Laporta to hit the ground running and to create a sane environment for another successful regime as the Barcelona President, he needs to first heal the deep mistrust among the club’s board of directors. And to some extent the players, for them to trust in his leadership skill and work hand in hand as one great family as we saw in his first coming.
Koeman’s Continuity As Barcelona’s Manager
As a leader who’s got a crucial decision to make, such a leader has to tread with caution. In other words, Joan Laporta in his statement concerning Ronald Koeman’s future :
“We have to respect Koeman who has a contract. He’s a Barcelona great and deserves all our respect, although results and performances count. The current situation requires experience”.
Laporta needs to come to conclusion on whether the Dutchman would continue as the gaffer of the club once he sees out his contract or he would be replaced with another manager.
Although since the exit of former Real Betis manager Quique Setien, the Dutchman has been able to steady the ship from sinking further even though he couldn’t conjure enough magic to help the Catalan giants go past Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League, they’re still very much in the race for the LaLiga title.
Aside from been dumped out of the Champions League, Koeman has since done quite a remarkable job with the Barcelona team, despite taking up a somewhat fragmented squad.
Should Barcelona finish second or third in LaLiga and go on to win the Copa del Rey final which would be their record 31st cup title, then it could be said to some extent that Koeman has achieved success with a squad that looked derailed of hunger to win under Setien.
Messi’s Contract Renewal
It’s no longer news that Messi is on the brink of leaving Camp Nou once his contract run-out in June, having spent his entire football career with the Catalan giant. With Laporta on board, especially a President who is known for his on and off-field achievements, the Argentine might call off his decision and stay back at Barcelona should Laporta tick all the necessary boxes that would make the team captain stay.
Considering the financial challenges Joan Laporta has to sort out, and bearing in mind the astronomical amount of money involved in Messi’s contract, it would be quite difficult to offer the 6 time Ballon d’Or winner such a juicy contract especially when the club is financially handicapped.
However, it would be interesting to see what kind of deal Laporta would offer Messi, not forgetting that other notable teams in Europe are also lurking around to sign the Argentine should he opt to leave Barcelona for a new environment and a new challenge away from the four walls of Nou Camp.
On the other hand, if there is any person that could convince Messi to stay is no other than Laporta, based on the illustrious past and pre-existing relationship with the captain. The new president certainly has what it takes to convince Messi to achieve yet another success.
Solving The Club’s Financial Debt
In Barcelona’s 122-year-old history as an institution, they’ve never been faced with a financial crisis like the one they’re currently in. Under the leadership of former President, the Blaugrana entered into a staggering debt of €1.173billion with over 700million of the debt in the short term.
With Laporta appointed as the new President, he’s expected to solve the debt of the club and put an end to the global disgrace the former administration caused the club through financial mismanagement.
How Laporta would achieve this great challenge would be quite a task, but then his years of experience as a former president would be of great advantage.
Joan Laporta once said he believes that he could reverse the situation by increasing sponsorship revenues and raising over €200millon from commercial rights sales. He also mentioned that he has options like the Barcelona Digital Hub, improving the Barcelona Studios Platforms which could bring in more cash, with all of these in mind then Laporta needs to swing into action as soon as possible.
Recruitment Of Quality Players & Investing In La Masia
With the 2020-21 football season already coasting home, there is definitely a need for the Blaugrana President to fix the on-field sporting issue affecting the team. Laporta, without doubt, would be faced with tough decisions with regards to off-loading some certain players to cut cost, but then on the other hand it is necessary in order to raise funds for new players
With four to five players needed to beef up the strength of the team and to also help Barcelona bring back the Champions League title that has eluded them since 2015. The good news is the imminent arrival of Eric Garcia from Manchester City that could prove valuable for the team in solving their somewhat defensive woe.
Another area that also needs swift attention is the defensive face of the midfield, where the aging Sergio Busquets plays, although the lack of immediate funds to initiate all of these transfers is no doubt a massive issue for Laporta.
However, for the team to compete in LaLiga and Europe as the Barcelona of old, hence the President really needs to tick all boxes in making sure they recruit quality players.
Since the exit of Luis Suarez in an acrimonious manner, the Blaugrana haven’t really experienced a brilliant in and out striker who could deliver the goals. As such there’s a need for real replacement for the striking position of the team, in order to take off the burden of relying on Messi to bail them out in difficult moments.
One name that certainly comes to mind in fixing that striking position is Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Braut Haaland, but then Barca should be battle-ready for financial power from top elite clubs in Europe such as Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Manchester City.
However, with Laporta’s cordial relationship with the Norwegian agent, then Barcelona surely has a chance of bringing him to the Nou Camp to spearhead the second era of Laporta.
Signing ready-made stars shouldn’t be the main focus of the new administrator under Laporta’s watch, it’s also very important that he invest in the club’s talents producing academy “La Masia”.
Over the years La Masia is known as the famous conveyor belt that served up generations of supremely talented youngsters who have carved out and turn world-class with impressive careers in the game.
La Masia’s graduates are steeped in the culture of the club and the idea is to develop a sort of familial bond from the lowest age group right up to the senior team. But in recent times the academy seems not to be interested in producing talents anymore except for a few. More attention needs to be paid to the academy that has the capability of producing quality players for the club.
Should Laporta be able to tick all of these boxes in his second coming, then Barcelona are in for a brilliant time under his leadership once again.
Real Madrid & The Act Of Disrespecting Their Legends
Real Madrid is undoubtedly the greatest club with an enviable winning mentality and incredible traditions that stand them out amongst other clubs.
However, have you ever wondered why Real Madrid worship, cherish their star players when they’re on top of their game, but forced them out during their lull period?
It’s glaring to the blind and clear to the deaf that with the current contract situation of Sergio Ramos at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid ain’t a club that celebrates legends or gives them some sort of elaborate farewell they deserve as a legend after serving the club painstakingly.
Los Blancos are strictly a club obsessed with winning and most importantly an institution that put the interest of the club before a legend, rather than focusing on giving their legends a befitting farewell when the time to depart comes calling.
Does Real Madrid really respect their legends? Apparently, your sentiment is as good as mine, these players are only been used as an object of victories perhaps because they earn a huge amount of money.
But when they’re going through a torrid time or they’re in a phase where the respect and love of the club are what they needed, they’re often denied that respect and love.
Having said that, let’s take a look at both present and past legends of Los Merengues stars, that’s has been treated like a piece of rag despite their legendary status at the club.
- Raul Gonzalez Blanco
The unceremonious exit of 90 percent of Los Blancos legends is one way or the other has to do with the contractual agreement between the club hierarchy and the players. Surprisingly, Raul’s case was quite different from other greats who left through the back door.
Following Los Rojiblancos then-President Jesus Gil decision to close their youth academy as a cost-saving measure, the Real Madrid great moved on to the neighboring rival Madrid’s cadet team in La Fabrica, where he was promoted to the Juvenile C, B, and A team, and subsequently went on to play for the senior side.
Raul served Los Blancos seamlessly during his reign as captain and was even seen as the poster boy of the team for many seasons, before the arrival of other Galacticos. The current Castilla gaffer played over 741 matches in the white shirt with 323 goals to his name during his illustrious 16 seasons at the Bernabeu, winning 3 Champions League and 6 Spanish Liga titles.
The legendary forward left the Bernabeu upon the arrival of Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho, and most importantly due to a loss in sporting importance for the team after the arrival of new signing Cristiano Ronaldo who went on to break every record that needed to be broken at Madrid including Raul’s records.
Raul’s contract was meant to end in a year’s time, as such the club board was skeptical about giving him a contract renewal due to his age, plus the fact that he isn’t that active in front of goal. As a result of that, he subsequently joined Schalke in Germany.
Raul in his statement before leaving Madrid, “it was a decision that I felt was right at the time for me and my family, as I felt somewhat constricted at this time”, “it was time to move on all concerned“.
- Iker Casillas
Considering the kind of respectful exit the likes of Paolo Maldini, Francesco Totti, Xavi Hernandez, and Ryan Giggs received from their respective clubs, you would understand why Saint Iker was so pained with the kind of exit he received from his childhood club.
After a long career at the Bernabeu, Casillas would have wished for a more dignified farewell to the end of his time with the Spanish giant. But for him, his departure wasn’t even close to something of the sort, as he was treated poorly by the club.
Following Casillas’s move to Porto, his parents claimed he was been forced out of the club, perhaps due to his obvious dip in form in between the sticks towards the end of his unceremonious Real Madrid’s exit. However, even as that, a player with such legendary status shouldn’t have been treated in such a manner that got many infuriated and criticized the club’s hostile act of treating its legends.
Iker’s parent’s statement “Porto are a team at the level of the Segunda B for a person at the level of Iker, a word champion cannot finish his career at Porto”. “He could have finished where he wanted to and he would not have minded if it had been at Barcelona because they’re a gentleman”.
Such a statement shows how disappointed Iker’s family is with his horrendous treatment of the club.
Iker and Real Madrid may have mended their burnt bridges and comes back to work with the club. However, the ugly treatment he got from his childhood club would certainly remain a period he wouldn’t forget in a hurry, while it would also be seen as a black mark in the history book of Real.
- Fernando Hierro
Following Hierro agreeing on a deal to join Atletico Madrid and even possed with their shirt, but never signed a contract while still with Real Valladolid in his formative years was when the news that Real Madrid wanted him at the Bernabeu came.
The report got Jesus Gil infuriated and described him as “an immature boy“, without minding Gil’s statement t Hierro went on to had a stellar career at the Bernabeu playing as both midfielder and a defender.
Hierro’s illustrious career during his time with the Spanish giant could be said to be a semblance of the current Los Blancos captain Sergio Ramos in terms of scoring crucial goals whether as a defender or midfielder and the leadership skill he showed off and on the pitch.
Having won the league in 2003, the board grew more ambitious and decided to let go of one of the finest managers in the club history Vincente del Bosque and Hierro who was also nearing the end of his contract.
As usual Hierro’s contract renewal talks went on and on without the club reaching any form of agreement with the veteran captain which eventually led to his exit.
Before the horrendous exit of Hierro, it was gathered that his relationship with the club’s president had declined in the final weeks of the season, especially after exiting the Champions League and with the announcement of new signing David Beckham from Manchester United.
The former captain echoed the sentiments of the Real Madrid dressing room, who didn’t take the announcement of Beckham lightly claiming “LaLiga is more important than Beckham”. In the end, Hierro left on bitter terms when his contract expired.
- Sergio Ramos
Contract renewal between Real Madrid’s players, most especially their legends and the club’s boards has always been a soap opera that goes on for a long time, without any form of agreement been reached with the player involved in the end. As a matter of fact, we’ve seen that with quite a number of their greats who eventually left the club with a heart that felt disrespected and perhaps betrayed.
Ramos’s contract situation at the Bernabeu is also going through that unappreciated end that the club’s hierarchy often deploys to ease their legends out.
As at this moment, having been a dedicated leader, captain, warrior, and a beast of a defender in the heart of Los Merengues defense Ramos’s contract agreement hasn’t been sorted out ahead of the expiring date in June.
This wouldn’t be the first time a number of Real Madrid greats has left the club through the backdoor after a breakdown in contract renewal talks. Ironically the man that has been more involved in all of that unceremonious exit is no other than the current president Florentino Perez.
Looking back at the close relationship both Perez and Ramos have shared in time past really left much concern why his contract renewal has been left this late to conclude every detail.
As it stands both Real Madrid and Ramos have been stuck in opposing positions throughout the contract negotiations, with the club not budgeting over their short-term renewal for older players. As such, that has given Ramos the headway to speak with another team once his current expires in June, should Madrid fail to settle things with their captain.
Irrespective of the club Ramos join should he leave Madrid, the fact would remain he’ll never leave as a happy man with the current situation of his contract talk. He has shown his frustrations in one of his recent post on Instagram with, “that’s how we treat our legends, heartbreaking”.
With the reoccurring unacceptable manner of Los Blanco’s ways in maltreating and disrespecting their greats, it’s very glaring that the club isn’t an institution that puts the interest of players at heart.
Moreso, with the names, mention above they ain’t the only greats treated badly without a proper farewell. There’s the case of Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Hernandez Guti, and perhaps Gareth Bale if he’s considered great.