FC Barcelona: European giant to a club in crisis.
Updated: Sep 26
22 September 2020
FC Barcelona is a Spanish football club thatclass has has gained world-renowned fame owing to its achievements and world-classhas players. The club has been competing in the top tier of Spanish football, La Liga, since its inception in 1928 and have won it twenty-six times since then. They have also won the Copa del Rey thirty times, the FIFA Club World Cup thrice and more famously, the UEFA Champions League five times. With the mentioned honours being only a fraction of their list of achievements, the club is one of the top clubs on a global level.
In July, at the end of the 2019-2020 season, things seemed to be going horribly wrong for the club, as their star player Lionel Messi announced his intention to leave the club after almost two decades. To deepen the crisis, the current president Josep Maria Bartomeu, is facing a premature end to his tenure after a vote of no confidence has been called against him after the 16,000 signatures which were needed to trigger it were attained.
The 2019-2020 season has been one of the dryest spells for the club— there were no major wins in any League or Cup. Moreover, their colossal 8-2 loss to German club, FC Bayern in the semi-final of the Champions League was just another nail to the coffin. Yet, this is not something sudden for Barcelona. Experts argue that the club has been in slow decline since 2012 after the departure of former player turned manager, Pep Guardiola, under whom the club saw one of its best spells. President Bartomeu is now facing the brunt of the responsibility as fans and other board members singlehandedly blame him for the downfall of the club, according to Bleacher Report.
Barcelona is a club that does not shy away from splurging huge sums of money to make star signings. Though they may add face value to the club, many of these signings have been redundant and sometimes have proved to be a bad fit for the team. There have been times in the past when President Bartemou signed expensive players on with great pomp to boost the global image of the club, but the very same players been sold in just one season with barely any time given to them on the pitch. It brought into question the integrity of the signings and President Bartomeu, with doubts arising as to whether the signings were made to genuinely bolster the team performance or just as a publicity stunt.
One of the prime examples of a star signing which went wrong is the case of Malcom Filipe Silva de Oliveira. Malcolm, a player of the French football club Bordeaux, was all set to join Italian club Roma in 2018 when Bartomeu swooped in on the last possible moment to bring him to Barcelona for forty-one million euros, as stated on the official website of FC Barcelona. The problem arose when then-manager Ernesto Valverde simply did not have any need for a player like Malcolm in his team. This became apparent in his playing time where the player got on pitch just 15 times before he was sold off, the very next season, to Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg.
Philippe Coutinho is arguably the infamous failed signing the club has made in years. As per the figures on the official site of the club, Coutinho was signed for one-hundred and twenty million euros from the English club Liverpool. This amount consequently gave Liverpool the financial support to make signings such as Virgil Van Dijk who became their star defender. In an ironic turn of events, Liverpool defeated Barcelona in the semi-final of the 2019 Champions League. Coutinho also failed to find his stride in the club and he was eventually loaned out to FC Bayern from where he scored and provided an assist against Barcelona in their 8-2 defeat.
Some other considerably bad signings were Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann. Dembele on whom the club spent one-hundred and five million euros, is a world-class player. But he proved to be highly injury-prone and has barely contributed to the club since his debut in 2017. Griezmann on the other hand, on whom the club spent one hundred and twenty million euros, though being a relatively new signing has not yet gotten enough minutes on the pitch to be labelled a bad signing but seems to have a problem fitting in with Barcelona’s playing style.
With Lionel Messi accepting to stay on for at least another season and with Ronald Koeman coming on board as manager and with a vote of no confidence being called against Bartomeu, the future seems brighter for the club and they might yet make a comeback from their decline.
Sources: FC Barcelona Official Site, Goal, Planet Football, Bleacher Report
Edited by Mridula Kumar