On the 37th matchday of the 2019-20 La Liga campaign, Barcelona officially lost the league title to arch-rivals, Real Madrid.
The 2-1 home defeat to Osasuna came as a shock to many, but the true followers of the football club weren’t really surprised. They had known it for a while — the defending champions never looked like defending their La Liga crown.
On paper, Barcelona had and still have a strong squad. They signed Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid, Frenkie de Jong from Ajax, Junior Firpo from Real Betis, and Neto from Valencia last summer.
Combining the new recruits with the firepowers of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Ousmane Dembele, Barcelona should’ve had a blistering campaign, not come second behind Real Madrid in the Spanish top-division race.
Of course, injuries to crucial players took its toll. However, that alone doesn’t give Barcelona the right to slack off, especially when they still had some of the best players at their disposal.
The Blaugrana, who are currently being managed by Ernesto Valverde’s successor, Quique Setien, are arguably one of the worst run clubs in the world.
Club president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, has been heavily slandered for buying impulsively and landing the club in considerable debt.
He also greenlit the unusual swap deal of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic, which would officially go through after the Champions League wraps up.
All things considered, Bartomeu and Barcelona are in dire need of a miracle next season, and they have a bunch of work to do.
Barcelona: Ins and outs
Barcelona number 9, Luis Suarez, has easily been one of the best strikers in the history of the club.
However, on the wrong side of 30, the Uruguayan is unlikely to produce the match-winning performances that made him a favourite at Camp Nou.
The 33-year-old reportedly has an offer from the USA’s Major League Soccer and is likely to consider it at the end of the season.
If Suarez decides to leave, Barcelona would be left with two centre-forwards — record-signing Antoine Griezmann and late winter acquisition, Marin Braithwaite.
Both forwards failed to make their mark in the 2019-20 La Liga campaign and would have to find their feet sooner than later.
Grizmann’s reputation and sky-high price tag would make him the obvious first choice. Braithwaite, on the other hand, could be pushed off the club’s payroll. The club and its coach aren’t too fond of the Danish forward and could ship him off to facilitate a move for Inter’s Lautaro Martinez.
Martinez, of course, won’t come cheap. So, Barcelona — who are a little tight on cash at the moment — would look to sell as many low-profile talents as they can to make the big move feasible.
As per Spanish outlet Marca, Barcelona are willing to part ways with Nelson Semedo, Neto, Samuel Umtiti, Carles Alena, Rafinha Alcantara, Junior Firpo, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, Martin Braithwaite, and Jean-Clair Todibo — a surprising number, considering the club’s lack of squad depth.
Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele also could be sold, but the club are unlikely to find suitors for the high-priced duo in this COVID-struck market.
Additionally, the Catalan outfit are believed to be having a hard time renewing Clement Lenglet’s contract and selling players are the fastest way for them to retain his services.
As per Mundo Deportivo, Quique Setien’s side are also in the market for Gerrard Pique’s successor and have shortlisted Manchester City’s Eric Garcia.
If Barcelona do end up selling Samuel Umtiti, having Garcia would be a smart option, which has become a rarity in the capital of Catalonia.
Villarreal defender, Pau Torres, is also believed to be on Barcelona’s radar. The club have reportedly been impressed by his performances and won’t mind splashing the cash to acquire his services.
An ageing, mismanaged club, relying heavily on the brilliance of their captain — Barcelona barely look the team that dominated Spain and Europe.
The next transfer window is likely to be make-or-break for the team. And the president, the hated and ridiculed Josep Maria Bartomeu, must make sure to have a stellar outing; give his team a fighting chance, next season.