There have been lots of articles, videos and whatnot talking about the poor shape of FC Barcelona. The future of Ronald Koeman has come into question several times over his not so long tenure and in recent times even Laporta’s ability has also come under fire. But talking about the problems is not going to solve them especially in FC Barcelona’s case. So this article is a realistic roadmap of how FC Barcelona can expect to win trophies in the short and medium term.
The biggest issue in this FC Barcelona side is the mentality or lack thereof. A majority of this squad has seen humiliation, defeat and embarrassment year after year. In an interview last December, when asked about the requirement of a sports psychologist in the Barca camp, Ronald Koman said “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 is a very primitive and downright destructive approach especially in today’s world with social media being such a big platform, where players receive a plethora of hate and mockery.
Even as the players are walking out onto the pitch, it seems like the Barcelona players have already forfeited the game. And if they concede the first goal, it’s full panic mode not only from the players but also the coach. This is evident by the many strange substitutions and formations we see from Koeman at the of games he is losing. A major example of how their mentality is damaged is the fact that how well the young players are playing. Their quality is of course exceptional but the older players have less belief and confidence in themselves it seems.
A sports psychologist is one of the biggest requirements in this team and one should be hired yesterday. But you can take a horse to the well but can’t force him to drink. The captains will have to take the initiative especially because they are the most senior. But more importantly because they have first hand seen the fall from grace and played all the games against Roma, Liverpool, Bayern and Paris. They probably need it more than the rest do.
The Coaching Situation
Provided the mess Koeman had to clear up, he did a decent job in the previous season. There were a lot of issues but Koeman prevented Barca from going trophyless 2 seasons in a row and had some good games along the way. However, he was clearly not the man to take this team forward. He is rigid and vengeful, his in-game management is less than useless and he is unable to get the best out of his players. This is evident because a majority of these players are playing better with their national teams than they do at Barca.
Since the current season began his team selection has been baffling, his tactics non-existent and his attitude even worse than before, constantly throwing young players under the bus. Even calling 19 year old Nico Gonzalez out on a mistake, blame for which was shared by Nico, Pique and Busquets together. Things are probably not going to turn around with the Dutchman, so Barca needs to look at their options realistically. Enrique and Guardiola are definitely not on this list because they already have a rich history at Barcelona and perhaps more importantly they are working jobs they love with a mission to win the UCL(Pep) and the World Cup(Enrique). Conte will command a wage that Barcelona just cannot afford.
Gallardo is young and definitely knows how to win trophies, winning 12 honours with River Plate along with 3 Manager of the Year awards in a row. His attacking approach will probably suit Barca but will he able to fix the highly dysfunctional defence. He might be looking for a new challenge in Europe but it is unlikely he will leave his beloved River Plate in the middle of the season.
Xavi has recently said that he might be open to offers but should Barca go for him right now? He is still very young and definitely unproven. He might not be the best person to clean the mess that FC Barcelona finds itself in. Andreas Pirlo is in a similar situation right now that’s why going for him will most probably backfire for the Catalonians.
Martinez is a name that has been thrown around plenty of times recently. However, that is perhaps the most unlikely name to join FC Barcelona among this current lot. He has worked on this Belgium project for too long and the 2022 World Cup is perhaps his last chance of winning silverware with this team and it is unlikely that he will let someone else finish what he started and claim the glory.
Eric Ten Hag
Ten Hag has begun another great project at Ajax with the likes of Sebastian Haller, Edson Alvarez and Lisandro Martinez. There is no chance he is leaving this job right now but a move after the season ends may not be unrealistic. There have been reports, not reliable though, that there is already a verbal agreement between Barca and Ten Hag for him to join the Catalonian giants when the season ends.
Schreuder was assistant manager to Ten Hag when Ajax had their dream run in 2018/19, Julian Nagelsman during his time at Hoffenheim and has assisted Koeman during his time at Barca. He is the cheapest option for Barca since he is already at Barca. Jordi Cruyff is also under Barca’s employment but he has not proven to be a big success managerial wise like his father was. A better option would be to go for Schreuder rather than for Cruyff. He has worked with the players longer and more closely and has assisted 2 of the best coaches in the world.
Pimienta might be the best option for FC Barcelona, he has worked with and groomed a lot of the players that are currently in the Barca squad. He will not be an expensive acquisition and all 3 of the last coaches that went from coaching the junior team to the senior team saw great success. 2 of them won the treble and their teams are regarded as some of the best in history.
This time under another coach for Barca will give Xavi enough time to be prepared enough to take the reigns at his boyhood club and extend his legendary legacy like Cruyff did and Guardiola did first as a marvelous player and then as one of the best coaches we have had the pleasure to witness.
Erling Haaland is a pipe dream which Barca fans shouldn’t bother themselves with. Several clubs with pockets deeper than hell will be going for the Norwegian and there’s nothing Barcelona can offer him that could pursue him to come to Catalonia. Newcastle, Manchester City and PSG are 3 of the richest clubs in the world and all will try to get Erling’s signature.
Barca definitely need a top class central defender to bolster their leaky defense. Laporte seemed to be that man but he has regained Guardiola’s favour and has made great use of this chance so he doesn’t seem like the man for Barca anymore or rather Barca a good option for him. But there are still 8 months left till the next summer window. And his Spanish ties may play a part. Also it is very unlikely but if he keeps getting sidelined John Stones might look for opportunities outside, he hasn’t played a single minute this season yet.
De Ligt is reportedly unhappy at Juventus and his time at Turin hasn’t exactly been all sunshine and roses. He is someone Barca has definitely wanted to bring into their ranks. The 22 year old will definitely cost Barca a pretty penny but he might be worth the money. The good news of Spain allowing 100% capacity will definitely boost Barca’s finances. This might increase their chances of making transfers such as De Ligt’s.
Franck Kessie has also been highly linked with Barca but several recent reports mainly from El National has claimed that Kessie will prefer Real Madrid who are also in the race to get his signature, over FC Barcelona. He is about to enter his prime and whoever will get him on a free transfer right now will be extremely lucky. Barca’s only hope is that Kessie sees Casemiro a threat to his minutes and picks Barca for the amount of minutes they can promise him.
Marcelo Brozovic has received some daylight in the media with links to Barcelona. The Croatian has seen some highs in his career and for a great price of 0 Euros the Barcelona camp might be tempted to bring the Italian Champion to Camp Nou. He is an intelligent defensive mid fielder and Barca needs all the help they can get to stop some of those goals they are conceding.
Raheem Sterling is the latest in a long line of Manchester City players linked with FC Barcelona but this might not be the worst move for all parties involved. Sterling can still perform at the highest level and Barca can provide a great platform for the English to show what he is capable of week in week out whereas in Manchester he has to share minutes with a plethora of talented players. City could lose Sterling for free in 2023 so any amount they could salvage from Barca next summer or even this winter will be a godsend.
Onto the other side of Manchester, another winger who is nearing the end of his contract is Jesse Lingard. He seemed to be done for at Manchester United but his stint at West Ham only went to prove that class is forever. It is a shame that he isn’t getting more minutes at Old Trafford this season but that might change if he goes from an all red jersey to a blue and red jersey. He has been linked with Barca in the past few days as well.
Now here is a zinger but a 38 year old Dani Alves might be making a return to the Camp Nou and this has only upsides for Barcelona. Alves has been playing very well in Brazil for the past few years in surprisingly the number 10 role. Now he is not the player he used to be but his sporting ability is not the reason this is a great chance. First of all, the money aspect, Alves is a free agent and will probably charge a minimal fee but the fans will rush into the stands to see the legend once again. Also his shirt sales will undoubtedly be quite high as well. But the biggest reason is his impact on the dressing room. Alves brings 30 years of experience to the table. The young players especially Sergino Dest, Alejandro Blade and Oscar Mingueza will have essentially hit the jackpot. He has one of the strongest mentalities in the world and he is the very definition of the phrase serial winner. The Brazillian is the most decorated player in the history of the entire sport. With more trophies than Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or Pele or any player who ever kicked a ball. This distraught broken Barca could certainly benefit from the electric personality of Dani Alves da Silva.
3 more names that have been linked with Barcelona are Alessio Romagnoli, Lisandro Martinez and Pau Torres. Romagnoli though is free next summer, many clubs might be more appealing to him. Pau Torres and Martinez may be a better suit for the Catalonians. They will command a fee but nothing too extravagant which Barca cannot pay at all.
Barcelona are in a hole but the night might be coming to an end for the Blaugrana and the dawn might be as bright for the Culers as dark the night was. But the road to greatness won’t be easy in the slightest but if anyone can do it, it is the same team which saw a dream to score 6 goals against PSG in 2017 and pull off the greatest comeback the world has ever seen. Things have changed for sure since that fateful night in Catalonia but what hasn’t changed are the values of Barca. Visca El Catalonia, Visca El Barca.