El Pistolero’s legacy at Barcelona will be remembered for several years to come. While Barcelona have had the privilege to host some impeccable strikers over the years, Suárez certainly makes the legendary list of forwards to play for the distinguished blaugrana badge. However, as heart-wrenching as this may sound, no legend lives forever and the future of Luis Suárez has been a subject of great concern. Will his ageing legs be able to cope next season?
Luis Suárez has had a decent campaign so far. Despite being accused of having a rusty first touch or being clumsy in build-ups, he seemed far more refined than his last term. The fact that Griezmann’s signing allowed him to be a bit more active on the field could be a reason considering he wouldn’t have to worry about not having a suitable replacement. Though, pushing the boundaries clearly led to a serious injury, which the Uruguayan had been avoiding for an unsettling amount of time. Now that he’s gone that extra limit, it’s fair to assume that these setbacks will be quite recurring. Also, what makes the general audience hesitant to have him next season is the fact that he has completely transformed himself into a poacher. Very rarely does he drop deep or show the willingness to press the opposition, which is by no means reminiscent to the Suárez fans saw at the beginning of his tenure at Barça.
All that being said, Luis’ worth is still undeniable. He’s Messi’s reference point, his focal point and, no matter how much he may have degraded in that regard, not many players in the squad know how to execute that role. Griezmann was given a shot, but hasn’t quite proven to be exemplary in such a position. This current team is obviously structured around Leo and is tasked to work in the Messi ecosystem, so it’s of utmost importance to have someone who fulfils that role with maximum efficiency.
Suárez is Messi’s best partner on and off the pitch | Photo by Lluis Gene / AFP via Getty Images
The 33-year-old has become a liability in away games and is clearly not ideal for the club in the long-term anymore. Therefore, seeing him leave this summer is certainly on the cards. Nevertheless, there are two options, which the club must start considering.
The club could play Messi as false 9 and Luis simply departs, accepting it is time to move on. Stationing Leo in such a position in these few last stages of his career could prove to be instrumental since not only does this allow the Argentine to be closer to the opposition box, but also doesn’t require him to unnecessarily drop deep to solve Barcelona’s creativity crisis. However, for that, Barcelona would desperately require efficient classic wingers who don’t instinctively move in the centre of the park, but rather stretch defences with their width and pace. Since the former Liverpool man would have less of a chance getting playtime and wouldn’t have to fulfill the function of acting as Messi’s reference point, his significance as a player would reduce exponentially.
The second option, and what at the moment seems more likely, is to sign a replacement for Suárez. The club apparently has set its eyes on Lautaro Martínez, who seems to share a similar play style to his South American counterpart. Lautaro could be Messi’s upgraded focal point as he’d have fresher legs and wouldn’t be a hassle during build-ups. With the arrival of a brand new striker, selling Suárez might not be ideal, though. Considering the Uruguayan can still be a source of guidance, retaining him might be essential. Anyone who arrives at Barça requires time to adapt, thus Luis would have some degree of importance until his successor is able to fully grasp his intricate role.
In both scenarios, one thing is ensured: Suárez must demote himself from the role of a starter. The next campaign will be crucial for Setién’s side and if the club intend to retain Suárez as a starter, Barcelona would be losing out heavily. Whilst there is no denying that Luis is a world-class striker capable of providing fans with outstanding moments, it is important to move on and think ahead.
3 Players Barcelona can sell to ease their financial burden
A debt of €1.173 billion, more than €700 million of which is short term, has sent FC Barcelona down a rabbit hole. The club’s gross mismanagement on both sporting as well as financial levels is no longer a secret. The former board of directors, led by president Josep Maria Bartomeu has consistently spent inordinate amounts of money on ludicrous signings. Most of which have come to bite the club back.
Now, they find themselves in a stickier situation than ever, with an astronomically high wage bill and multiple liabilities to clubs across Europe for signings. In addition, Lionel Messi’s future at Barcelona hangs in the balance. If the club are to conduct any business whatsoever, it will have to begin by offloading a few players.
After Ronald Koeman arrived at the club following the disastrous end to the 2019-20 season, a few key names have already been sold. As the initiation of a rebuilding process, Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal, Nelson Semedo, and Ivan Rakitic were all sold. However, these departures have hardly put a dent in Barcelona’s debt.
That being said, Barça Universal takes a look at three potential sales that might help the club with their finances. Players who may not be key parts of the sporting project long term and whose departures will allow for some breathing room in the wage structure, and allow Barcelona to sign a huge talent such as Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland.
It would be a rather disappointing conclusion to what was potentially a wonderful signing. Samuel Umtiti, after signing for Barcelona, was rapidly rising up the ranks as one of the world’s best centre-backs. After his move from Lyon in 2016, he was flying high and quickly displayed why he staked a claim into the Blaugrana’s starting lineup.
But the Frenchman’s fairytale would come to an abrupt halt. After a fantastic second season with Barcelona, Umtiti suffered an injury to his left knee in 2018, just a month before the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The defender risked himself to represent his nation, and it ended up being a positive decision as France lifted the coveted prize with Umtiti as one of the key players. He decided not to have surgery as he felt it would worsen his issues.
Ever since then, despite his initial impressions, the injury woes have persisted and have led to many complications. Recurring issues with his meniscus, followed by foot injuries and many other issues, led to a massive decline in form and physicality. The centre-back was never really able to return to his brilliant best. While coach Ronald Koeman does favour the Frenchman, he is definitely not a consistently reliable presence at the back anymore.
Umtiti’s current deal with Barcelona expires in 2023, and given that he is 27 years old may work in favour of the club. He is not too old, and while he is injury-free, he could fetch Barcelona at least some money. The World Cup winner at his best is a fine player, but given the current circumstances, Barcelona can no longer afford to leave things up to chance.
Philippe Coutinho came to Spain with tremendous promise for the fans, backed up by a huge smile on his face. He was genuinely happy to be where he was. His dream of playing for Barcelona was finally a reality. But that optimism sadly did not last far too long.
The midfielder slowed down tremendously in his first full season with the Catalans. He looked out of sorts and lost in strange and unfamiliar systems. When he arrived in January of 2018 from Liverpool, he became Barcelona’s most expensive signing of all time for over €140 million. After two bad seasons and a loan spell at Bayern Munich, he was finally beginning to show small signs of promise under Ronald Koeman this term.
However, the Brazilian has also been sidelined due to a lengthy injury this season, which has extended into worse news. In addition to that, Liverpool are reportedly one of the clubs that Barcelona still owe money to in variables for Coutinho’s transfer. They will be keen on avoiding any more liabilities. And since Coutinho has obviously not come anywhere close to providing a return on Barcelona’s investment in him, his time at the club may be up.
He is also one of the highest earners in the squad, therefore selling him might be imperative.
The midfielder turned right-back has been a polarising figure in the Barcelona fans’ eyes for quite some time now. The 29-year-old’s current contract with Barcelona is set to run out next year and has a release clause of a massive €500 million. Roberto has made some amazing memories with the club, most prominently, his iconic goal against PSG in 2017’s famous ‘Remontada’.
However, since then he has been more or less showing that he is mostly just a utility player. The Spaniard has been unremarkable in a fair few games and has often made rather costly errors. Over time however, he had certainly become one of the heavyweights in the dressing room, which obviously reflects in his salary. This season, he has been struggling with a thigh injury, which he recovered from but then relapsed.
He was a valuable asset to have in the absence of a full fledged right-back who has the so-called ‘Barcelona DNA’. However, with the arrival of Sergino Dest, parting ways with Roberto makes sense from both sporting and financial perspectives.
While Roberto might not be among the players who have constantly underperformed but selling him might be a logical decision for Barcelona because as a player who can play in multiple positions across the pitch, and is in his theoretical prime, the Spaniard will be in demand. Football today requires for players to adapt in various positions and roles, and we have seen Roberto’s capability with the same.
Additionally, as one of the captains of the team, the La Masia graduate might be able to lease off a more than decent amount of cash. Several top teams in the market, including Juventus, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and PSG, among others, might be vouching for a right-back soon and could look towards Sergi Roberto.
However, there are also more players like Jordi Alba, Junior Firpo and Neto who could be smart sales. Alba has also been declining rapidly but his offensive output has not yet been replaced. Firpo is already linked to a move away to various clubs after failing to impress at Barcelona. In a nutshell, the Blaugrana certainly have options to sell, in order to continue the rebuild effectively. Easing the financial load by selling and eventually making way for more sensible transfers will be vital for this transitioning side.