The last article assessing the departures ahead of the 20/21 season has made some virtual money for Barça, and these should be the main priorities of this summer transfer window.
Departures in a transfer window often leave empty spaces that should be filled as soon as possible with the money these players got their club. The latest article about departures has generated a lot of potential money for Barcelona. These departures also free up so many wages as heavyweights –– Luis Suárez, Arturo Vidal, Iván Rakitic… –– could leave the club in the next few days, and God knows how big their salaries are at Barça.
With every summer transfer window come interrogations, and Barcelona should focus on their weakest points to pinpoint the best players for the job. These are a few of the sectors that Barça should focus on this summer:
The latest piece included the exits of both Sergi Roberto and Nélson Semedo, two out of their depth right-backs, behind for the greater good. Semedo’s lack of concepts is worrying for a starting right-back at Barcelona, and Sergi is neither a midfielder nor a defender at Barça. The blaugranas should focus on two right-backs. One that’s a starter and a younger one who could learn from the more experienced player mentoring him.
What the Catalans also need is an attacking right-back who understands the defensive duties they are given. No matter who the manager is, the right-back cannot show glimpses of talent in attack and completely forget his responsibilities at the back. Also, they should consider putting some money on the table for a near world-class right-back as it would be an investment for years to come.
Third-choice or starting centre-back
Samuel Umtiti will leave, but his departure would leave a gap in the defence as the third-choice centre-back. After the Bayern game, Gerard Piqué offered to take a step back if needed. It either means the legendary defender has either offered to leave or become a secondary figure in the starting eleven. The culés subsequently need one or two defenders that are either ready now or within a few months at Camp Nou.
“We all need to reflect deeply. If new blood needs to come for the club to change course then I will be the first one to leave if that is what it is best for the team. We need to reflect on what is the best thing for the club and for Barça“
There have been many rumours concerning centre-backs and conceding eight in a match for Barça means that the defender needs to make fans forget about it with a lot of leadership, something that the defence has lacked in the past few years. Roma, Liverpool, Bayern…All these debacles happened without a vocal or technical leaders in the defence other than Marc-André ter Stegen, who himself had his worst game with either his feet or his hands in a garnet and blue shirt on Friday.
This defender will have to instil confidence with both his feet and his voice in a team utterly bereft of hope and self-esteem. A fresh start with new and young centre-backs while phasing out methodically Piqué and selling Umtiti would be much needed at the Camp Nou.
Speaking of phasing out heavyweights methodically, we talked about selling Junior Firpo last time around, and this comes with a starting left-back with him. Jordi Alba has made his time as a starter for Barcelona. The eight years at the Camp Nou combining with Lionel Messi and winning trophies have been glorious, but it’s time for the former Valencia left-back to either leave or accept a secondary role, just as Piqué did. At 31, the defender doesn’t possess the insane pace he once had and is undoubtedly less clinical than before.
While some veterans are still valuable to have in the squad, the club can’t wait anymore to start replacing them | Photo by Rafael Marchante / Pool / AFP via Getty Images
Alba’s replacement should be a carbon copy of the young defender that joined from Valencia after the 2012 Euros. A quick, ambitious and altruistic defender who gives his all for the team and assists his teammates with passion. There aren’t a lot of left-backs that could work, but at least there are some.
Barcelona will need a midfield revamp after years of not touching it. With Arthur Melo gone and Miralem Pjanić in, Iván Rakitić, Arturo Vidal and Rafinha Alcântara are expected to leave the club and be replaced with new, more energetic players. Barcelona have produced lots of great young talents in midfield and will not need to spend big as they can promote one or two players already. If they want a superstar signing in midfield though, there are many, but they all come at a price.
Barça could splash the cash on a great midfielder to climb back from the insanely poor midfields that played in every debacle for three years.
Young, starting striker
Luis Suárez suffering from a steady decline, Messi ageing, Antoine Griezmann not finding his feet and Ousmane Dembélé being injured, it’s fair to say the attacking department is a massive problem at Barcelona. With Francisco Trincão, a fit Dembélé and Ansu Fati, the wings may be set for a few years, and these exciting youngsters should do damage with their pace if utilised most efficiently.
The real interrogation is the striking department. As Griezmann is not a lone striker, he would have to play off someone good enough to score the goals while the Frenchman does what he does best, and that is run and attract defenders to open spaces. Indeed, Griezmann will run, but the new man upfront should be mobile enough to create his own chances and not wait for them as Suárez does nowadays. He should be young and aggressive to force an error from the opponents’ side. Barcelona shouldn’t pay as much as they have for the midfielder, though, because the striker position is a matter of confidence.
Barcelona have a lot to do this summer, but they should be able to rebuild a squad just as Bayern did a few years ago. They should spend big on a few select positions and not waste money on Brazilian youngsters or B team signings. With the money they will potentially raise, especially as 17 players are reportedly on the market, Barça will be able to rebuild and splash the cash wisely, that’s if president Josep Maria Bartomeu has learnt from his mistakes.
The psychology at Barcelona: A leaf out of Jurgen Klopp’s book
Guest Contributor: Darren Looney
“When I came here, the size of the club was a burden. Now it’s our safety net, it’s our trampoline, it’s our home, it’s our basis, it’s everything to us. Now we are Liverpool before the club was Liverpool and we were just the guys who were trying to be good enough”.
In Melissa Reddy’s book ‘Believe Us’, Jurgen Klopp, the man who led Liverpool to become champions of England, Europe and the world, details how a change in psychology from having the clubs past success being used as a noose around their necks to becoming fully confident individuals, helped the club end their 30-year wait for a league title.
FC Barcelona has a noose of its own hanging over the Camp Nou at present. It has been placed there by former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, having left the club in a state that is unable to match the success seen over the last two decades.
The incoming president and manager will be the ones left to cut it free, and with limited economic resources to do this, a change in the mindsets of the lads could play a part in helping the club get the most out of what they already have.
Barcelona’s current state
The Josep Maria Bartomeu’s presidency oversaw a circus rather than a football club. In this timeframe, Barcelona lost the respect of its fellow European giants through humiliating performances in the Champions League, selling Neymar Jr. to Paris Saint Germain, poor recruitment, and a squad constantly breaking under pressure.
Players such as Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Lionel Messi, and Ousmane Dembele, of those that started in the latest Champions League match, have all been through the most of these embarrassing moments, which has no doubt left some trauma.
Others in the squad have laid witness to Bartomeu disregarding the club’s motto ‘MÉS QUE UN CLUB’ with his handling of club legends Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi’s transfer situations in the summer. That could not have inspired the non-senior members of the squad with any confidence.
Adding to that, players like Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Junior Firpo, and Antoine Griezmann have had their names constantly attached to rumoured player plus cash deals, such as the Neymar offers, which can lead to them questioning if they are good enough. This is the sort of psychology you do not want around a club trying to compete.
When asked about whether a sports psychologist would benefit FC Barcelona back in December, Barça manager Ronald Koeman stated, “I don’t believe in psychologists and mental [issues]. If you play for Barca, pressure exists, you know that, and you have to overcome it”.
This answer shows the Dutchman’s ignorance of the importance of a player’s psychological state. Additionally, it also shows arrogance about the club and the stress that comes binding with it. Ignorance that is evident in the pictures of Lenglet, as he left the Camp Nou after Sunday’s match in tears, most likely due to a lack of support. The kind of lack of support that eventually leads to careers dissolving.
In the same press conference, Koeman stated that “this team has enough personality and experience” to get through bad moments. This “experience” is also susceptible to being psychologically overwhelmed, the dressing room at halftime at Anfield is evidence of this.
Whether it is Koeman or the next president’s manager, one will have to get a hold of this problem. Luckily for them, the blueprint of how much power the manager can have over this can be seen in the place Jordi Alba shed his tears.
The Jurgen Klopp effect
When Jurgen Klopp arrived in Liverpool, one of the first things he addressed was a change in psychology from the supporters. He wanted the fans to believe in the process, and in his first press conference, he enforced this by saying, “we need to feel the confidence and trust of the people”.
In ‘Believe Us’, Klopp speaks about the psychological state he found the players in when he first arrived. He claims that “The players were obviously listening to all the voices saying they are not good enough for the club or that I can’t wait to get rid of them.” A situation some Barca players find themselves in now, as mentioned earlier.
One of the German’s first instructions was for the players to pay no attention to comments outside of him and his coaching staff, a message that took longer than expected to resonate, as the team collapsed in the title race halfway through the next season.
Klopp explains that the collapse was down to the players not complying with this request. The German explained how the players were focused on people saying, “they don’t have a plan B for deep-defending sides, they can only play one way”. A criticism that Cúlers this season know too well.
Klopp emphasises the importance a strong mentality within games had on the Red’s fortunes and claims new players alone would not have been enough. This is a note worth taking for those looking at Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe to change Barcelona’s fortunes.
It took Klopp years to convince some players that they were good enough to play for a club as big as Liverpool. New players added to the quality of the squad but that psychological attitude to keep going for the full 90 minutes, no matter the score, is what led the club to their recent success. This was visible countless times over last season as well, as Pool continued to take hits at teams till the last minute till they eventually broke. Barcelona, too, have been on the receiving end of their incredible mentality.
Koeman might be right in that the players do not need a sports psychologist. However, Lenglet’s incident exhibits that the psychological state of his players is something that he must take control of and not ignore.
Next season has the potential to be an important one for Barcelona’s near future. With a new president at the helm and a potential new manager. The Catalan side needs to banish the psychological doubts leftover by Bartomeu’s reign and move forward as one unit.
The fans and players need to get behind the project put in place, as Jurgen Klopp puts it “when you agree on a common idea and work towards it together, you can create something special”.