Real Madrid have officially secured the La Liga title. This is Los Blancos’ first La Liga trophy in two years. On the other hand, with one game remaining, Barcelona’s maximum points tally for this season is 82 points after a disappointing loss to Osasuna. This would be their lowest points tally since the 2007/08 season. That season they finished with 67 points in third place, under Frank Rijkaard. Barcelona seem to be lost. The season isn’t over, (Champions League is still to play for) there are some major worries that could be troublesome for the Blaugrana faithful.
What’s the Plan at Barcelona?
Big Expectations at the Club
Barcelona have had problems all over the pitch; in defence, midfield, and attack. It may seem ill-advised to suggest that La Liga’s top scorers have problems in attack, but with a 33-year-old Lionel Messi carrying a huge load for the team, it may be a problem worth taking a look at.
Quique Setien may or may not be the coach next season. As stated earlier, the Champions League is still to play. While anything can happen in a knockout competition, the likes of Bayern Munich, Manchester City, and even Paris Saint-Germain are safer bets than Barcelona at the current time. A Champions League elimination would be the first trophyless season for the club in 12 years. The board’s lofty expectations could see Setien out the door.
Barcelona’s Poor Transfer Business
What happens next, if Setien leaves? Sacking Setien suggests that all of Barcelona’s problems are solely from coaching, which clearly isn’t the case. The transfer business has been substandard and some would even say murky. The last good summer business that has worked out was in 2014. The likes of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Ivan Rakitic, and Luis Suarez were brought in. These players had a huge impact in the coming years. Since then, it’s been miss after miss for one reason or another. Frenkie De Jong could be the exception. However, the jury is still out as the Dutch international is still very young even though he’s very promising.
The spine of the team that includes ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Luis Suarez, and Lionel Messi has carried the team for years. However, perhaps for the exception of her Stegen, all these players are in decline. Even the great Lionel Messi has declined despite his consistently great output. The Argentinian icon still has a few great years in him. However, it’s time to future-proof the side in order to move comfortably past the Messi era at the club.
Barcelona’s Long-Term Coaching Plan
President Josep Maria Bartomeu and the board have a lot of cleaning up to do. A big summer due to the ongoing global pandemic is unlikely. However, the first step is to hire a coach with a long-term plan. The Barcelona formula of hiring a midtable La Liga manager needs to stop. It always seems to be a short-term plan that doesn’t last for any longer than two to three years. Mauricio Pochettino is off the table because of his allegiance to cross-town rivals Espanyol. However, Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag has shown that he’s an excellent coach that could fit Barcelona’s style of play.
With that being said, Bartomeu has recently said: “Xavi will be Barcelona’s coach sooner or later”. Xavi is a club legend who knows the club in and out, however, the club is still in win-now mode. Xavi has little to no experience which makes him a huge risk at the current moment. Hiring club legends just based on their playing days has been proven to be a lazy formula.
Pep Guardiola coached the youth team for a year before getting hired. Zinedine Zidane coached Real Madrid Castilla for two years and was an assistant coach alongside Carlo Ancelotti before being hired as head coach. Frank Lampard coached Derby County for a year and was hired during a time of rebuilding by Chelsea which gave him the luxury to give young players a chance. Xavi has coached Qatari side Al-Sadd for a year which is a completely different beast to European football. Ten Hag is the obvious choice, but Bartomeu could go for Xavi for next season.
Barcelona are all over the place. If they don’t get their act together, there could be more trophyless seasons on the horizon.