Ever since Neymar Jr. left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain, in a deal that completely changed the financial landscape of football as we know it, the club have been trying to make amends, but to no avail.
Led by president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board, Barca went from a financially stable treble-winner to a trophyless club in massive debt within just a few seasons, very much changing the culture at the club.
Every harmful decision Bartomeu has made leads back to the transfer market, and trying to spend their way to success. Over €400m was lavished on Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho alone, none of whom have justified their price tags.
Dembele has just been injury after injury, with one or two promising performances in between, while Coutinho is unlikely to play for Barca again. Griezmann had a decent first season, but it’s clear he does not fit in with the club’s identity and style of play.
Villarreal CF v FC Barcelona – La Liga Photo by David Aliaga/MB Media/Getty Images
The amount of money spent on those three players alone is more than fourth-place Sevilla have spent in the past five years, which is worrying, especially since Barca have also spent plenty of money on other players too.
But the worst part isn’t how much they spent, it’s who they spent it on. Dembele could have been justified if not for his injuries, but Coutinho was signed as a CAM, a position which does not exist at Barcelona.
That’s not even the worst one, though. Griezmann has absolutely no place at Barca, regardless of how good he may be, because he is simply not a winger and his hold-up play isn’t good enough to be a lone striker.
In fact it’s not entirely clear why Barcelona spent north of €100m on Griezmann, who even turned the Catalans down the previous summer, but that is what Bartomeu has brought to this club.
Forget about these three, though. Mistakes can happen, right? Except there is a long line of similar anti-Barca signings that have no place at the club. Looking back, the first of these clueless transfers has to be Arda Turan replacing departing legend Pedro.
He lacked any semblance of Barca DNA, and he clearly did not fit in at the club. But Bartomeu didn’t stop there. Andre Gomes and Paco Alcacer were signed the following season, as they let go of potential gems in Alen Halilovic and Marc Bartra.
Again, neither player had the desired impact, and both were moved on within two years. The following season brought one of the most curious signings Barcelona have ever made: Paulinho.
The midfielder arrived from the Chinese Super League with plenty of doubters, and as soon as he was beginning to win them over, he was sold back to Guangzhou Evergrande the following season. He brought an aggression and energy to the team that helped them win matches.
The same can be said of Arturo Vidal, who signed the following year. In the short-term, they do help, but in the long run they are destructive to what the club is trying to build. Bartomeu decided these types of midfielders were required to win titles. Continue reading