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FC Barcelona’s €131 million mismanagement of Brazilian talents – A recurring theme

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Barcelona’s management in the transfer window over the years has been marked by missteps and shortcomings.

Reckless spending, handing out absurd contracts like Christmas cards, and failure to devise a long-term vision have led to the club losing its core.

While the new board under the reign of Joan Laporta has attempted to rectify these issues, a concerning theme continues to persist: the mismanagement of Brazilian talents.

Brazil and Barcelona have traditionally been regarded as the yin to each other’s yang. After all, some of the best Brazilians to have ever played the game donned Blaugrana jerseys.

The likes of Neymar Jr, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, and Dani Alves serve as prime examples — players who marked lasting eras at Barcelona by fusing their flair and creativity with the academic principles of the club.

However, recent history shows turbulence in ties between both powerhouses of football. And it largely stems from Barça’s unjust treatment of Brazilian talents.

The curious case of Vitor Roque has garnered immense attention, but he is not the first Brazilian youngster to be shunned by the club after arriving with high expectations.

We take a look at some of Barcelona’s poor handling of Brazilian players and the consequences it may have on the team’s reputation.

Arthur Melo

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

Arthur Melo joined Barça from Gremio in 2018 on a €31 million fee, a year after winning the Copa Libertadores.

His start to life in Barcelona could not have gone better, as a few months after the season got underway, the midfielder began drawing parallels with Xavi Hernandez.

An iconic performance against Tottenham in the Champions League further demonstrated his unique ability to circulate possession under extreme pressure.

But Arthur’s journey was abruptly cut short in the following season when Barcelona reached an agreement to sell him to Juventus.

In reality, it was a way of balancing the books, as former President Josep Maria Bartomeu wanted to disguise Barcelona’s poor financial management.

This involved the exchange of Arthur for Juventus’ Miralem Pjanic, mitigating the club’s fiscal shortcomings.

Barcelona’s cashing out on Arthur in such a manner sent a poor message. Despite his impressive performances and commitment to the club, the Brazilian found himself caught in the crossfire of Barcelona’s financial woes.

Malcom

(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Just a year after signing the Brazilian from Bordeaux on a €41 million fee, Barcelona sold winger Malcom to Zenit Saint Petersburg for an initial payment of €40 million.

The winger was mostly availed as a rotation option but exercised his role to a tee. He made 24 appearances and scored four goals, with his most well-known goal coming in the Copa del Rey semifinals against Real Madrid.

However, despite impressive performances when called upon, Barcelona disposed of Malcom after just one season.

They were reportedly in a financial crunch and needed to balance their books, with the Brazilian fatefully having to pay the price.

Once again, Malcom’s abrupt transfer to Zenit Saint Petersburg left many scratching their heads as questions about the club’s commitment to nurturing talent from Brazil mounted.

Matheus Fernandes

(Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

Barcelona’s investment in Matheus Fernandes was a complete bust and arguably one of their most shady deals in recent times.

The Catalan giants paid Palmeiras €7 million to sign the player. He spent a half-season on loan at Valladolid before he joined the club, and upon his arrival, game time for him was essentially nonexistent.

Indeed, the Brazilian played just 17 minutes in a Champions League match in which Barcelona won 4-0 against Dynamo Kyiv.

After a season on the sidelines, Barça’s method of parting ways raised even more eyebrows.

With four years left on Matheus’s contract, Barcelona terminated it. Matheus filed a lawsuit, and the judge awarded him €8.5 million against Barcelona for his unjust termination.

With Fernandes axed through an email and not given a formal unveiling ceremony upon joining the team, Barcelona once again conveyed the wrong message to young Brazilians aspiring to join the team.

Emerson Royal

(Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

Emerson’s case is particularly telling. Three months after joining Barcelona on the back of an impressive campaign with Real Betis for €12 million, Emerson was compelled to hit the exit door.

While Tottenham’s offer of €30 million convinced Barcelona to offload him, due to factors like the sell-on clause owed to Real Betis, Barcelona’s profit from the sale was minimal.

As such, the transfer received much criticism and was not received fondly back in Brazil.

“I was hurt by Barcelona’s ways,” Emerson said with the club opting to transfer him after selling him dreams of succeeding in Barcelona.

Vitor Roque

(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

The latest name to join the long line of Brazilians who have been mistreated is Vitor Roque.

Owing to his outstanding strides at Athletico Paranaense, Barcelona decided to get their hands on one of Brazil’s hottest young center-forward talents, paying €40 million for the striker.

The player turned down numerous offers from top clubs, most notably Tottenham Hotspur, to fulfill his dream of playing for Barcelona.

Since joining the club in January, though, game time has been incredibly scarce for Roque. The coaching staff has preferred many other forwards over him, which has cast doubt on their faith in the 19-year-old.

Recent reports have argued that the player’s future seems distant from Barcelona and that he is set to leave this summer, either on loan or a permanent transfer.

After shelling out a significant amount on one of Brazil’s most revered talents, understandably, criticism is mounting over Barcelona’s seeming inability to effectively integrate and utilize these players.

The fact that Andre Curry, a respected scout of Brazilian talents, and Roque’s agent had to publicly criticize the club’s poor management significantly damages their reputation.

Final remarks

The pattern of poor management hurts Barcelona’s standing in the Brazilian football community.

Prospective players, their representatives, and even their families could have doubts about signing for Barcelona because they worry about suffering a similar fate of dashed dreams.

With Roque’s recent troubles, the Blaugranes now run the risk of failing to lure top talents from South America’s factory of talents, Brazil.

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