opinions | 2016-08-19
Barça's transfer strategy this summer will determine the club's long term success
The new approach by the sporting director and his technical staff could lead to a reliable renewal of the key players or to a period of frustration
Barcelona and Real Madrid have an age old rivalry that has only grown in intensity and other ways with time. You can now see it in the massive signings both clubs have made. Real Madrid had paid record fees to sign Gareth Bale in what many of the latest soccer lines analysts suggest was a response to the record fee Barcelona paid for Neymar.
This contest, while typically encouraged, isn’t among Barcelona’s intentions, though, at least not at the moment. Barça still have the strongest side in European Football and they haven't made typical marquee signings this summer after winning the domestic double two years in a row.
Barcelona has shown a different kind of strategy while conducting business this window, spending notable amounts of money but not on players that could replace any starters of the Gala XI right way. A good example is Lucas Digne, the Frenchman was signed to be Jordi Alba's backup and although he has started well, taking the fans by storm, he's unlikely to replace the La Masia graduate immediately.
Samuel Umtiti is the big exception, the Frenchman is set to become a starter alongside Piqué sooner rather than later, even though the coach trusts Mascherano. Meanwhile, with Arda Turan getting back on track, Ivan Rakitic, Busquets and Andrés Iniesta occupying the main midfield roles, the addition of Denis Suárez, Rafinha's return after a long injury and André Gomes provides squad depth and more opportunities for the key players to be rested.
While it's clear that none of the signings are already world class players, they provide balance to a squad that still has one glaring deficiency with Dani Alves departure: Sergi Roberto has performed wherever he's asked to play, but he's not a right back at heart and Aleix Vidal has raised doubts with his technical limitations when defending. It might be a little too early to judge the right back options in their challenge to at least bring consistency on the right side of the defense and attack.
Only time will tell, while some can be said to be unhappy with Barça's transfer strategy if Alcácer is really signed for over €35m with add-ons, leading to the loan or sale of both Sergi Samper and Munir that could frustrate fans that dream of more La Masia starters in the future after such incredible ten years of Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and others.
Barça won the Liga title last season, but only by a single point, this after gaining and eventually losing a nine-point lead at the top of the table. That can be treated as a consequence of lacking squad depth and dependable backup players like the club is focusing this summer. The fans expectations in the upcoming campaign are significant and we have more than enough reasons to trust the sporting decisions of the coach after two successful seasons.
Barcelona goes forward with the ghost of Real Madrid's side from nine years ago looming. When the stars of the team, the likes of Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane, left after multiple unsuccessful seasons both home and abroad, the club failed to buy the right players leading to a disaster of over €130 million in 2007 and issues that lasted for years.
If they are not careful, Barcelona might find themselves in a similar situation, but after two official matches vs Sevilla with the new signings impressing and Luis Enrique committed to continue his work at Barça, there's more than enough reason to be optimistic. The only worrying fact that the homegrown talent is not up to par lately, a glassing ceiling that so many young players seem simply unable to break due to the demands of immediate success the club has every season.
Barcelona is still the strongest side around and now their transfer strategy could determine whether or not they stay at the top for even longer.
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