In a shock deal that went under the radar on Transfer Deadline Day, Antoine Griezmann returned to former club Atletico Madrid in a loan deal, which will become permanent next year. This particular transfer, the exit of Antoine Griezmann, is indicative of something far larger: the second era of Barcelona club President, Joan Laporta.
Griezmann’s Loan Highlights the New Laporta Era
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 31, 2021
The Joan Laporta Project is Well Underway With Antoine Griezmann Exit
During his first spell as President of Barcelona, Laporta’s tenure oversaw one of the most successful spells in the club’s history. The era of Barcelona which focused so heavily on integrating La Masia academy graduates into the first team – think Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Gerard Piqué, Carles Puyol and others.
Between June of 2003 and June of 2010, his administration saw two Champions Leagues, four La Ligas and a flurry of domestic trophies. Quite simply, it was a golden era; the era where Messi as talisman (and Ronaldinho before him) and Guardiola as manager were at the heights of their respective powers. Everything ran so smoothly. Of course, in 2010, Laporta, having completed his tenure, was succeeded by Sandro Rosell and, eventually, Rosell would be succeeded by the largely unpopular Josep Maria Bartomeu. Whereas Laporta’s reign emphasized the development of home-grown, La Masia talent, Bartomeu’s heralded in an era of lavish spending; bloated contracts and, ultimately, the club’s rapid, almost terminal decline – certainly in pandemic times. His resignation late last year saw the sensational return of Laporta – an outspoken critic of Bartomeu – to the club.
Current Barcelona Side is a Long-Term Project
For all the talk of the decline of Barcelona – and there is plenty – there is also much to be optimistic about. The club, for the first time in years, is focusing on developing their own talent once more.
As the exits of Messi and now Griezmann have highlighted, Barcelona are currently enduring a nightmarish period of financial instability. Whilst arch rivals, Real Madrid, were courting the services of Kylian Mbappe, Barcelona were offloading star players they simply couldn’t afford to keep. In doing so, however, they have freed up spaces for gifted youngsters. The likes of Ansu Fati, Pedri, Eric García, Ronald Araújo, Sergiño Dest and Gavi, to name a few, all have a place. Luckily for them, they can also rely on the services of Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Philippe Coutinho and now Sergio Agüero to pass on experience. Throw in the wildcard option of the supremely gifted talent of Memphis Depay and it becomes clear that there is plenty of talent in this side.
Make no mistake, this is a squad for the future; one which, with the right leadership overseeing their development, could become world beaters once more, in time. Lowered expectations, less pressure and the exit of Lionel Messi, in particular, have collectively given a generation of talent an opportunity to shine; an opportunity which might not have presented itself, if the club continued down the path Bartomeu had led it down. The Antoine Griezmann transfer effectively demonstrated that Barcelona, under Laporta, are serious about offloading the lavish contracts which have rendered the club financially insecure. Whereas his exit itself signals a waste of potential, it is the right move for the club; one which, in time, will be remembered as a turning point in the club’s fortunes.
Embed from Getty Images