The transfer window is always an exciting time, where big teams go after the best players of the last season, and the weaker sides try to hold on to their best prospects, most of the time in vain. Usually, when a European giant has an awful season, they have a massive rebuild with big signings and other significant sales. The players that have come at the end of the cycle are often replaced for newer and fresher blood to take place, and that’s the beauty of the game.
This summer was supposed to be Barcelona’s rebuild, like 2008 or 2014. 2020. The year Barcelona lost all three trophies, losing to Athletic Club in the quarters of the Copa Del Rey, giving away La Liga like it was nothing, and suffering the club’s most humiliating defeat in its history, an 8-2 battering handed by Bayern. Barcelona’s 2020 squad was the end of a cycle, and, much like 2014, it ended badly.
In 2014, Barcelona had an excellent transfer window, buying Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Marc-André Ter Stegen, and Claudio Bravo en route to a second treble in the club’s history, a record only equaled by Bayern Munich in 2020. This year, Barcelona had to go quickly, and it was clear that they had to sell the deadwood even before the pandemic. However, the pandemic changed everything, and Barcelona’s, along with everyone’s, finances plummeted, and soon enough, the dreams of signings became a long-lost memory. At least there were the departures.
Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez, Jeremy Mathieu and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen of FC Barcelona acknowledge the FC Barcelona supporters during the new FC Barcelona players presentation | Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Indeed, Barcelona dearly needed departures as the squad’s heavyweights gained more and more power while declining heavily physically. Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic, three of the most overused Blaugrana players over the past two years have left and have contributed next to nothing in terms of transfer fees, even if getting their astronomical wages off the books is the most significant relief a Culé could get nowadays. The club’s wage bill is so high that they had to offload those players, even if they didn’t get the big bucks for them. Fortunately, the money came from England, as it usually does, with Nelson Semedo joining his Portuguese teammates at Wolves to replace Matt Doherty, who went to Spurs earlier this summer. These sales are brilliant in every aspect of the game, and now Barça have to focus on signings, and that before the game against Villarreal on Sunday.
Barcelona needed to get rid of these four players, and there are many more who could (should?) leave before the end of the window, but Barcelona have to focus on getting players who are ready to impress at Camp Nou. The recent rumours regarding Sergiño Dest replacing Semedo are excellent to hear, but where is he? Also, where are the other replacements? The other great players supposed to put Barça back on top?
Don’t get it twisted, Barcelona’s squad isn’t half bad. Dest would improve the team, but since Riqui Puig is not going to be used as much as he should under Ronald Koeman this term and Monchu has been sent on a permanent deal disguised as a loan to Girona, who are really the options for Barcelona in midfield? Will Aleña have the chance to impress this time out? Will Pedri be used as much as he was in pre-season? Or will the Catalan giants buy another Miralem Pjanic to close the path of Riqui Puig? How are Barcelona supposed to compete if their squad is way thinner, and they’re not inclined to bet on youth?
Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Also, forget about the midfield, but who will be the striker on Sunday, and for 20/21? Who will replace Suarez, a 20-goal-a-season striker who became a nuisance in the squad but still had decent stats? Is Griezmann that kind of striker? Of course not. So where are the replacements? Where is Memphis Depay? The Dutchman was rumoured to have signed for Barcelona a few weeks ago but Jean-Michel Aulas, the Lyon president, revealed that the Culés had no money. And where is Eric Garcia, the La Masia graduate who’s supposed to return home but Barcelona are not able to generate the kind of money Man City want, which is 18 million Euros — by the way, peanuts in this market.
With all these interrogations coming up, it’s fair to say Barcelona have to act quickly to buy the players they need because they’re not getting any more lifelines in Europe. The first stage motion of censure has already been successful, and if Bartomeu has any pride left in him, he has to nail this transfer window, at least this one! Until then, let’s hope Barcelona don’t go into Europe with basically the same lineup that started the quarter-final against Bayern about a month ago.
Messi looks far from his best but continues to break records
Lionel Messi continues to break records despite coming close to the twilight of his career, making fans jump in the match against Ferencvaros. Every football fan knows that for the Argentine, team performance is more pivotal than personal acclamation. However, lately, Barcelona’s talisman was struggling a lot in the new system. Just when the fans were about to believe that the alien magic might never happen as part of Ronald Koeman’s Barca – it happened.
The abysmal start of this season showed a lack of thrill in Barcelona’s captain under Barcelona’s new boss. The speculations had already begun that the relatively cold Messi-Koeman relationship will affect both the captain and the overall team’s performance. These conjectures got more hype when Messi magic failed in La Liga’s four matches so far.
Slow start of the season
While struggling in a new role, Lionel Messi was able to score only one goal, which too was from a penalty. It is needless to say that the key caveat behind this was Argentine staying at Camp Nou against his will.
His performance in the league raised questions over his passion, and his keenness to be a part of the team anymore. Fans predicted that Messi would not be able to blossom under the new coach’s tactics. It was not about physical and technical challenges the talisman was mentally struggling too.
Messi looked to struggle initially. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)
During this chaos, things got worse when the forward failed to save Barcelona from Getafe as they fell 1-0 to the Madrid outfit in La Liga on Saturday. This defeat was the final nail in the coffin full of opinions that the best ever is not dedicated enough to save the Catalans anymore.
When the Blaugrana’s savior is constantly struggling in new positions and the overall team’s atmosphere is woeful, it is natural to lose hope. However, whenever the world doubted the king, he has proven it wrong. Thus, the talisman’s loyalists kept praying for the miracle.
Tuesday night came with that long-awaited miracle. Barcelona’s superstar continues to break records, stealing the headlines. He once again managed to prove the world wrong in a 5-1 victory game against Ferencvaros in the Champions League.
3 Records in 90 minutes
Lionel Messi had the fans and the opposition both left in eye-gazing awe, as he broke three records in a single game against Ferencvaros.
Barcelona’s captain opened the scoring from a penalty while leading the team on the four other occasions. Back in 2005, at the age of 18, Messi scored his first goal in the Champions League, and as now equalled Ryan Giggs’ record for scoringi in 16 seasons straight.
Messi also further pushed his own record of scoring the most goals in the Champions League group stages by scoring his 69th goal yesterday, pushing him six ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, who is second in this list.
Additionally, with his goal, Ferencvaros became Messi’s 36th victim team in Champions League. He was previously the record holder at 35 games, which makes it even more bizarre.
Three records down in one game – just Leo Messi things. (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)
Barca boss admitted before the game that their superstar is struggling and could do better. However, Koeman’s prediction came true when he was full of praise for the Argentine after the game.
All these records add to the impressive Champions League collection of Lionel Messi. Putting the records aside, his performance during this match was pleasing to see. This game came as a signal that the curse has been broken and good things are on their way. Now, this can be further strengthened against Real Madrid this weekend.