Look away now, Barcelona fans. For quite some time, there have been culés complaining about the direction in which their club is headed. Fans complained about Luis Enrique and his rotation and youth policies. There have been complaints about how La Masia and its products are being handled and treated and people have called out President Bartomeu’s running of the club overall. For the most part, their complaints have been brushed off as those of spoilt fans who just want too much, but it has reached the stage where we must wonder what is going on behind the scenes in Barcelona.
The latest news emanating from Camp Nou doesn’t make for enjoyable reading if you are a fan of the Catalan giants. Earlier in the week, it was revealed that promising young forward Sandro Ramirez would be allowed to leave the club for free due to poor behavior this season. A free transfer? Surely they could get some compensation for him. Barcelona’s finances are definitely not in a perfect state of health, thus preventing just about any justification for getting rid of a player like that for free. Moving on, we arrive at yesterday’s reports which indicate that both Dani Alves and Javier Mascherano will trade in the red and blue of the Blaugrana for the white and black of Italian champions Juventus. What? Dani Alves and Javier Mascherano being allowed to leave? Two vital pieces of Barcelona’s defense are being traded in?
Despite their claiming a domestic double, it was difficult to ignore how light Barcelona’s squad looked for a large part of the season. With a transfer ban in effect last summer, the registration of new arrivals was not permitted, meaning that we did not see the inclusion of Arda Turan or Aleix Vidal in match day squads until January. Both have so far failed to live up to expectations for differing reasons, and it remains to be seen if either will still hold a squad spot when this summer’s transfer window closes.
Moving away from the aforementioned arrivals, we saw a team that undeniably relied heavily on their majestic M.S.N forward line. Of course, relying on the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar in itself is not the problem. The problem arose due to the lack of reliable alternative options to cope with Messi’s injuries and Neymar’s poor form. Sandro and Munir struggled to replace their colleagues, and Rafinha spent a large part of the season out with his own injury problems. It’s reported that Denis Suarez is set to return this summer, but is that enough? This is somewhat doubtful.
It is abundantly clear that Barcelona must make use of this summer window to strengthen their squad, particularly the defensive options. The aging Jérémy Mathieu is not good enough, want-away La Masia graduate Marc Bartra is out of favour with Luis Enrique, and Thomas Vermaelen is simply not consistently fit enough to be relied on. Barcelona are already in the market for defensive reinforcements, but the departure of either Mascherano or Alves will only make things more chaotic. Both players have been pillars in Barcelona’s back four for years, and have enough left in the tank to contribute to the club’s efforts moving forward. These two aren’t the players that Barcelona should allow to leave. Instead, it should be the likes of Mathieu and Douglas who are let go to make way for the acquisition of adequate reinforcements. If these reports turn out to be true, Barcelona fans should all be questioning what’s next for their club.