There’s a new revolution on the rise at Barcelona with new management taking the club’s reigns. Barcelona will need a new sporting director soon, and that role should go to none other than Marc Overmars.
What is a Sporting Director?
A Sporting Director is an executive officer in charge of the sporting department of the club and acts as an intermediary between the club’s manager and the board. Many clubs choose not to hire Sporting Directors as there is often conflict between the manager and the director.
Even for the clubs who do work with Sporting Directors, the roles vary from club to club, with the Sporting Director job being more prominent in some clubs and relatively less prominent in others. The most common responsibilities of a Sporting Director include:
- Scouting Players
- Scouting Staff Members
- Negotiating with Clubs
- Deciding on Contracts and Contract Renewals
FC Barcelona has always worked with Sporting Directors, from Txiki Begiristain during the Guardiola era, to Pep Segura, who was dismissed in 2019. Striking a balance between the manager and the director has always been key at Barcelona. One can even argue for the correlation between success and the relationship between these two roles.
Guardiola and Txiki had an excellent relationship and often saw eye-to-eye on matters, which resulted in effective transfers and a vibrant dressing room. On the other hand, Ernesto Valverde and Pep Segura were not always on the same page, which caused many issues. Segura often pursued transfers without consulting Valverde.
If not for an extreme turn of events, Barcelona’s next president is going to be either Joan Laporta or Victor Font, and both their projects include a Sporting Director, however, Font has repeatedly emphasized the fact that the manager will have the final word, while Laporta’s philosophy revolves around the board and the director having the final word. Regardless of which of them gets elected, both Laporta and Font can create a system that gets the best out of both the director and the manager.
Who is Marc Overmars?
Marc Overmars is a former Dutch footballer and a Director of Football (Sporting Director). As a player, Overmars made his professional debut for Willem II in 1991, and then went on to play for European giants such as Barcelona and Arsenal. The Dutchman boasts an illustrious career with over 100 goals as a midfielder and won a Champions League and a Premier League.
In July 2012, Overmars returned to AFC Ajax, not as a player, but as a Sporting Director. Since then, the Dutchman has helped build an Ajax that won 3 league titles and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. However, according to reliable Oriol Domenech, Overmars has decided to leave Ajax in June as he believes that his cycle at the Dutch club is over.
The Dutchman has a contract with Ajax until 2024, and so the timing of this news, and Barcelona’s election dates, might not be coincidental. One of the candidates, most likely Joan Laporta, may have contacted Overmars already.
Being a Sporting Director is anything but easy. The role requires the person-in-charge to be sharp, quick and efficient. The director must be able to respond to changes in the footballing world while sticking true to the club’s philosophy.
Barcelona and Ajax are eternally linked due to Johan Cruyff, and the two clubs share very similar philosophies. Overmars, having done a phenomenal job at Ajax, will be well accustomed to a club’s requirements sharing the same philosophy at Ajax. He will be well aware of Barcelona’s landscape – knowing what players to scout, what staff members to appoint, etc.
During his time at Ajax, Overmars has brought in some astounding players such as:
- Frenkie de Jong
- Dusan Tadic
- Andre Onana
- Hakim Ziyech
- Nicolas Tagliafico
Overmars’ great recruitment skills aren’t limited to football players, the Dutchman has brought in excellent and appropriate managers such as Peter Bosz and Eric ten Haag, who have both had successful spells at Ajax. Scouting a few right players, and the right staff members is not the hardest job in the world, but creating a well-woven project is.
Overmars did not just bring in the right people, he created a harmonious project – not just the right people; the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Managing the financial side of transfers is also an important job. In recent times, Barcelona has purchased Ousmane Dembele for €120 million, Philippe Coutinho for €140 million, and Antoine Griezmann for €120 million, examples of unsustainable transfers. Overmars, on the other hand has done some brilliant business.
|Player||Buying Price||Selling Price|
|Frenkie de Jong||€1.1 million||€86 million|
|Hakim Ziyech||€10 million||€44 million|
|Kasper Dolberg||~€100K||€21 million|
|Davison Sanchez||€4.2 million||€47 million|
Under Overmars, Ajax also sold Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus for €75 million and Donny van de Beek to Manchester United for €40 million. At Barcelona, Overmars will have a much bigger budget than he had at Ajax. If the Dutchman was able to build a squad that was a few minutes away from reaching the Champions League final with minimal resources, at a club of Barcelona’s stature, Overmars would be able to do wonders.
Barcelona is undergoing the biggest transition since 2003, and boast of a squad that needs catering. With the club in financial debt and with Lionel Messi being in his twilight years, the Catalan club will undertake a downwards trajectory if the right person isn’t present to steer the wheel. With stakes at an all-time high, it would be in Barcelona’s best interest to bet on Marc Overmars to be the man to pivot the club back to glory.
A significant week in Barcelona for Lionel Messi’s future
It is a topic that gets the football world giddy. The fantasies of Lionel Messi playing in the Premier League, the formation of another star-studded front three alongside Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappe, and for the romantics, a return to Argentina is set in their hearts.
After the infamous events of the summer of 2020, now more than ever, the biggest legend of FC Barcelona looks closer than ever to leaving.
Many Barça fans feel that it could be a good thing that the six-time Ballon D’or winner leaves, bringing up the point that the Catalan side needs a hard restart next season and the idea of building a team around a 33-year-old does not seem logical, as it only benefits the near future.
This is a valid point and most likely comes from those who want not only the best for Barca but Messi as well, as Cúlers are not ignorant to the fact that the club cannot promise their beloved number ten the fifth Champions League trophy he craves in its current situation.
However, in an ideal world, Barça fans would want Messi to stay and win his fifth European Cup wearing Blaugrana and if that is to happen, the week that went by is the only decider on course for the club and player alike.
The Copa Del Rey comeback
In the interview with Jordi Évole on LaSexta last December, Lionel Messi stated that he “wanted to keep competing to win trophies.”
Two weeks ago, that desire for this season looked unlikely. Atletico Madrid had a sizeable lead over the Catalans in La Liga, Paris Saint-Germain built up a 1-4 lead in the Champions League, and Sevilla had a 2-0 advantage in the Copa del Rey.
The first of these tasks was addressed on Wednesday night, in what turned out to be a memorable night in the history of FC Barcelona. A 94th minute Gerard Pique header sent Barça into extra time, where Martin Braithwaite completed the comeback to send the Catalans through to the final 3-2 on aggregate.
The chance to win another trophy would no doubt have pleased Messi but it is the story of the match that will help keep the Argentine at the club next season.
If Messi stopped and looked around the Camp Nou on Wednesday night, he would have seen determination and heart from his teammates to keep going to the final whistle, an abundance of youthful talent performing at a level beyond their years, and world-class players such as Marc-Andre ter Stegen ready to step up when certain challenges emerged.
Throughout one night, all these combined into a sort of presentation to the Argentine, exhibiting the future of FC Barcelona and where the team is headed.
There is no denying that the gap between Barcelona and Europe’s elite is still large, but this performance showed the signs Messi has called for and that is something that can be noted down for the future.
The perfect Liga weekend
Looking ahead to the weekend, the second of Barcelona’s comeback missions received an encouraging boost.
The Catalan side were looking to go 16 games unbeaten in La Liga in a match against twelfth place Osasuna and a win would not only see them extend this run but close the gap on Atletico Madrid to just two points, albeit with two games in hand.
The importance of this weekend lied in Atletico’s game as they face city rivals Real Madrid. In an ideal world, Barça fans would hope that the spoils are shared in El Derbi allowing the Blaugrana side to gain points on both Madrid clubs.
Barcelona’s prayers were catered to, and not only did the Catalan giants pick up three ugly, yet important points from their encounter against Osasuna, the capital outfits had to settle for a draw. Playing the angel’s advocate, even if Atleti had come away with the three points, it would essentially narrow the title race to just two teams considering Los Colchoneros gap at the top.
From Lionel Messi’s point of view, winning the La Liga title from the position Barça found themselves in a few weeks back would be a huge encouragement to stay for another season, especially if it is accompanied by the Copa del Rey. The Argentine has been part of teams that let leads slip over the last three seasons and to flip the script on that, would ultimately show progress.
The Presidential election
The final act of the week was the 2021 Presidential Election, where the next president of FC Barcelona was chosen on Sunday night. Joan Laporta, Victor Font, and Toni Freixa were the three candidates fighting for Barça’s top spot, and all have addressed the situation of Lionel Messi throughout their campaigns.
Joan Laporta had emerged as the favourite for a second spell, and like everyone suspected, the Spaniard swayed the elections, coming on top as the winner. Ideally, it would have a significant impact on the future of La Pulga, as Messi showed up to vote for the elections for the first time in his life. In fact, Laporta went on to claim that Leo congratulated him on the night. His renewal will be one of the many hurdles Laporta will have to jump over.
Throughout the presidential campaign, it has been rumoured that Messi will not stay if Joan Laporta does not win. Laporta himself fuelled these rumours on Tuesday during the last of the Presidential debates.
The Spaniard stated, “If I don’t win, I am sure that Leo will not stay at Barcelona”.
“If I don’t win, I am sure that Leo will not stay at Barcelona. “Messi will weigh up the offer we make him. I’m convinced that if the other candidates win, Messi will not remain at Barcelona. He wasn’t happy during Freixa’s time on the board.”Joan Laporta in the presidential debate
If these feelings are believed to be true, the future of Lionel Messi could take a dramatic twist on Sunday.
Having said all this, Lionel Messi’s future could come down to one simple desire, to win a fifth European Cup. At 33 years old, the Argentine does not have time on his side in this pursuit, and it could be years before Barcelona can compete for Europe’s top prize again.
With ready-made teams such as Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain waiting on the side-lines, the final decision in June could come down to this week — if this week does not make it for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, there is little chance anything else will.