After the departure of “defensive-minded” Ernesto Valverde, everyone expected Barcelona to return to normalcy, play football the “right way.” New boss, Quique Setien, was tasked to take the fight to Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid, who themselves were looking to find their footing in the Spanish top-flight.
An unusual COVID-struck season later, Real Madrid celebrated their 34th La Liga title, while Barcelona sat hopelessly on the sidelines, surrendering their pride and trophies.
Setien, of course, was eventually thanked for his services and let go, urging Barcelona to start looking for a new manager. They somehow managed to bring in club legend, Ronald Koeman, to try to save the sinking ship.
Despite not being a favourite for the job, the former Netherlands coach has started the season strongly, leading Barcelona to seven points from their opening three games.
Lionel Messi, who was on the verge of leaving the club in the summer, also looks a lot more settled and is gearing up to make a tangible impact.
The Blaugrana have brought in a couple of fresh faces to keep the regulars on their toes. However, it would be up to the coach and the club veterans to guide Barcelona out of this mess, and it’d certainly be interesting to see how they tackle the daily challenges.
Today, we’ll take a look at Barcelona’s performance in the summer transfer window and try to figure out the shape they’re in — at least on paper.
Miralem Pjanic — From Juventus in a swap deal with Arthur
This move was finalised before the end of the 2019/20 campaign but has come into effect from the new season. The central midfielder, who has joined from Juventus, is a good addition to Barcelona’s stacked midfield and could help them unlock tricky defences.
He’s not the youngest member of the squad, of course, but still has a few years of good football left in him.
Sergino Dest — €21m from Ajax
The young and promising full-back has joined Barcelona from Ajax and is an important addition to the squad. The US international has already made his debut for Barcelona, coming off the bench in the 1-1 draw against Sevilla, but couldn’t do anything of note.
With a bit of patience, Sergino Dest could become an asset to the squad and a regular on the right flank.
Francisco Trincao — €31m from SC Braga
Signed from SC Braga for just over €30 million, Francisco Trincao, for the time being, is more of an afterthought in the Barcelona dressing room. He is primarily a right-winger but can play more centrally or even the opposite wing, if required.
Matheus Fernandes — €7m from Palmeiras
Barcelona snapped up Palmeiras talent, Matheus Fernandes, for a reported €7 million in the summer transfer window. The 22-year-old is expected to provide cover for the likes of Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets.
Pedri — €5m from UD Las Palmas
The Blaugrana secured Pedri’s services from UD Las Palmas in the month of August. The attacking midfielder is a promising prospect and is capable of making a solid impact with his precise passes and underrated vision.
Arthur Melo — To Juventus in a swap deal with Miralem Pjanic
Barcelona sold one of their most prominent midfielders to Juventus for a player plus cash deal. They got Miralem Pjanic in return, of course, alongside €12 million.
Luis Suarez — To Alteico Madrid for free
After enjoying an insane spell at Barcelona, the club’s third-highest scorer, Luis Suarez, was sold to La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid. The transfer saw him move to Madrid for free, which enraged a big chunk of Barcelona fans.
Nelson Semedo — €30m to Wolves
Right-back, Nelson Semedo, was sold to Premier League outfit Wolverhampton Wanderers for €30m. The move financed Dest’s eventual move from Ajax.
Carles Perez — €11m to Roma
Academy graduate, Carles Perez, never managed to get his fair shot at the Barcelona senior team, which worked as the primary instigator behind this move. The Blaugrana sold the right-winger to AS Roma for €11m, concluding a forgettable chapter.
Marc Cucurella — €10m to Getafe
Marc Cucurella, who also graduated from Barcelona’s famed academy, spent the last season on loan at Getafe. The move was made permanent, this season, for €10m.
Ivan Rakitic — €1.5m to Sevilla
After serving the Camp Nou outfit for six years, Ivan Rakitic was allowed to rejoin his boyhood club, Sevilla. Barcelona sold the midfielder for €1.5m.
Arda Turan, Arturo Vidal, and Rafinha
All three players were allowed to join their respective clubs for free. Arda Turan moved to Galatasaray, while Arturo Vidal and Rafinha joined Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain, respectively.