Ask most football fan in the world who the best team is and many will invariably claim Barcelona are the top side. It seems a bit strange for that claim to be made especially with Barcelona having secured just one trophy.
The Catalans’ season proved they are far from the best team in the world. What showed this term was a reliance on Lionel Messi and an inability to score or create goals without him. If you don’t agree, go back and watch Barcelona’s Champions League semifinal against Liverpool. The first leg saw Messi create space and goals making the rest of the team better. The second featured a Barcelona side unable to stand up to a team three goals down as Liverpool came back and won the semifinal with four unanswered goals.
On Saturday night, Barcelona lost the Copa del Rey Final to an inspired Valencia. Barcelona’s 2-1 loss was more proof that Ernesto Valverde’s team is over reliant on Messi and in many ways broken.
Valencia were 2-0 up in the opening 33 minutes and Barcelona’s only goal came with 12 minutes left in the game. Which Barcelona player scored? Messi, of course, was the one to find the back of the net.
But why are Barcelona so poor? The simplest question is poor transfer market work. Barcelona have spent heavily on players with reputations rather than scouting the best possible signings. Those transfer purchases of Philippe Countinho and Ousmane Dembele have not succeeded over the long-term. Over £240 million was spent by Barcelona to acquire both players and both are considered.
While Barcelona are over reliant on Messi, the squad is old and their key players are only getting older. Gerard Pique is 32, Ivan Rakitic is 31, Sergio Busquets is 30, Luis Suarez is 32, Messi is 31, and Jordi Alba is 30. The young players at Camp Nou are not playing well when given the chance.
How bad is the problem at Barcelona? During the Copa del Rey Final, fans took to social media to call for manager Ernesto Valverde’s sacking. The manager, who signed a contract extension earlier this season, may be out of a job this offseason. If Valverde is dismissed, he would be a scapegoat for Barcelona’s greater problems.
According to the Metro, Barcelona have drawn up a managerial shortlist who could take over for Valverde. Current Arsenal manager Unai Emery is one of the four men that makes up Barcelona’s coaching shortlist.
The newspaper reports Barcelona are also interested in speaking with Belgium national team manager Roberto Martinez, Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman, and former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Anyone watching Barcelona’s end of the season capitulation will know it wasn’t Valverde’s fault for the poor results. Messi should be held accountable for his poor play in two of the club’s biggest games of the season. He was unable to inspire his teammates to step up.
Nothing should be taken way from Liverpool’s Champions League semifinal win nor Valencia’s Copa del Rey victory, but Barcelona are a shell of the team they were when Pep Guardiola was at the helm. Barcelona are ageing and looking older by the season.