Barcelona find themselves in an awkward paradox. Fresh off a historic second treble, the Blaugarauna have solidified their return to the upper echelons of World Football. Such a climb however, comes at a cost, and once the carnival quiets down at the Camp Nou, Barcelona will have to address more than a few pressing concerns.
Like with Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, and even Real Madrid before them, Champions League victories have often been followed by series of fat trimming measures. The near impossible goal of retaining a Champions League title fills the minds of the victorious party. This however comes with the realisation that in order to do so, they have to be better than they were before.
The question that arises with every Champions League that Barca wins, is how they can get better. It’s a more perplexing conundrum than most understand, as improving a side as dominant as Barcelona is one of the most daunting challenges faced by their managers. Guardiola’s debut team consisted of perhaps the finest crop of footballers to grace the game. The style he implemented has served to define a golden age of players at Barca. yet inevitably, the party does end, and after four years, Pep showed himself the door.
Similar parallels have been drawn to Luis Enrique’s tenure at the club. Like Guardiola, he has changed systems, like Guardiola he has won the treble in him first year, but unlike Guardiola, he can build a system of sustainability that can far outlast himself.
It would be ludicrous to entertain the notion that any player would want out of this Barcelona team. It broke the traditional moulds of tiki taka and breathed in new life into a somewhat predictable style of play. In doing so, he’s had to rely on older established stars, as well as new recruits. Barcelona have been quick with signing the likes of Alves, Alba and Pedro to longer term contracts, Enrique must look to keep his youth players, in order to sustain Barcelona’s success
Marc Bartra . fits the bill of such a player. Despite Barca’s dearth at central defence, Enrique opted to employ a converted left back in Jeremy Mathieu, and a converted Defensive Midfielder in Javier Mascherano over the La Masia product. While this might’ve proved vital to Barca’s treble, they are far from long-term solutions.
At 23, and with a skill-set that includes speed, and aerial presence, Barcelona would be foolish to let him go.
With the departures of Dos Santos and Thiago, Barcelona are slowly losing their academy products. The strategy of youth promotion is as ingrained into Barca’s fabric as their red and blue colours.
With a shortage of appearances, Barcelona stand to lose their defensive stud at a lowly a 12 million. If they are to build for the future, Barcelona must look forward, yet never forget what makes them integrally different.
Rafinha Alcantara, like his brother Thiago, has found game time hard to come-by at Barca. His role this year has primarily been limited to the domestic cup, as a stocked midfield of Rakitic, Iniesta and Busquets have kept him out of Liga contention. However, his performances in the cups have shown the potential he harbours. His loan spell at Celta established him as one of Spain’s most promising CMs, and if given the chance he could mould well with his senior team members, as he himself is cut from the same cloth.
Despite possessing on of the most complete midfield trios in Rakitic, Iniesta and Busquets, Barcelona will have to take age into consideration. With Busquets slowly growing accustomed to the role Xavi left behind, it is Iniesta who still proves a question mark. Despite some memorable performances, like that against Juventus in Berlin, the last two season have been trying ones for the World Cup winner. With age and pace slowly catching up with him, Barca would be wise to seek alternatives.
Though Cazorla and Mata will prove valuable additions, it is City’s David Silva whom Barca must look to the most. On the ball, he is one of the best and most accurate dribblers in the world. His ability to fly under the radar is one that perplexes even the most gifted of central defenders, and the regularity at which he does so, is truly frightening.
Silva’s extensive knowledge of the English has improved his all-round gameplay markedly from his Valencia days.
With Iniesta unable to consistently churn out quality performances, Barcelona would be wise to bolster their midfield ranks with one of the more travelled and accomplished members of La Roja’s setup.
Barcelona got a first hand display at the power, pace and potential of Paul Pogba. The Juventus midfielder remained a constant presence in the Juventus midfield, as he played a vital role in facilitating a second half come-back for the Bianconeri. Despite ending on the losing end at Berlin, Pogba shone like a diamond, alerting every single major club, to his talent.
While Juventus seems a practical place for the young Parisian to stay, his fate seems to be either in the hands of Barca or Real. While Pogba might not ooze what many believe to be the Barca style of play, Enrique’s vision for Barca seems to be divergent from the system instituted by Guardiola and Vilanova. Pogba could suit any three of the midfield roles occupied by Rakitic, Iniesta or Busquets, and there’s no telling just how good the former FIFA Golden Boy can get.
As was the case with Real’s La Decima side, and Bayern’s treble winners, change was bound to take place. In Barca’s case however, the change might not be so immediate. With their ban ending only by June 2016, Barca might want to keep as many players and sell as few to ensure they remain strong heading into the new window. Till that time however, Barcelona still have players that can be deemed ‘surplus to requirement’
With Sevilla looking to reinforce their squad ahead of their first Champions League campaign in six years and with the seemingly imminent departure of Fernando Navarro to Deportivo, the Andalusians have turned to Barcelona to bring back Adriano.
Adriano has failed to see the success he had at Sevilla and has been relegated as a utility player off the bench during his five years in the Catalan capital and when asked about acquiring Adriano, Barcelona were said to be receptive to the idea, since they have Jordi Alba, Jeremy Mathieu and a fully recovered Thomas Vermaelen able to play the left side.
While the two sides have not gotten into negotiations yet, they have been continuously discussing the transfers of both Martin Montoya and Denis Suarez, as Barcelona is trying to cut short the midfieldera s two-year loan deal.
Adriano was sold to Barcelona the season following Sevillaa s last Champions League campaign and played 157 La Liga matches from 2005 to 2010 with the club.
His agent has confirmed Premier League clubs are interested, and the Star claim Arsenal are monitoring the situation.
Juan de Dio Carrasco, who represents the player, told the IBTimes:
“I can say there are some clubs in England [who are] very interested in Martin Montoya, but also in Italy and Germany . I cannot confirm the names of the English clubs interested yet. We have to think about everything and see what is best for the future of the player.”
While the future for Barcelona looks strong at the moment, Luis Enrique will have to ensure both form and fitness, as Barca’s Liga rivals are sure to re-structure and re-strengthen their ranks. Barca would be wise to follow suit in whichever way they can.