Barcelona’s Blueprint: From Glory to Chaos

Xavi Hernandez, with Sergio Alegre, Oscar Hernandez, Joan Laporta, Enric Masip, Rafa Yuste, Deco and Bojan Krkic, during the press conference called...
Xavi Hernandez, with Sergio Alegre, Oscar Hernandez, Joan Laporta, Enric Masip, Rafa Yuste, Deco and Bojan Krkic

Barcelona has had a season without winning a trophy, as they have missed out on the Champions League, Copa Del Rey, and La Liga titles. What went wrong and what positives can they take from this season?

The Rollercoaster of the Transfer Window

Barcelona’s transfer window had its own advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, they signed Ilkay Gündoğan as a free agent, which was a superb piece of business. His final third output has been amazing, with an enormous amount of chances created for forwards. Not only that, he is among the highest assist-givers in the UCL. However, their other signings – Oriol Romeu, João Cancelo, João Félix, Iñigo Martínez, and Vítor Roque – have had mixed performances.

Iñigo has added sufficient depth to the defence; however, Cancelo and Félix have had their moments. Both were crucial in getting Barcelona to the last 16 of the Champions League, but they have not performed at the expected level in the second half of the season. Cancelo has also been guilty of poor defending against PSG and Real Madrid, which has reduced the chances of his loan getting permanent. Oriol Romeu has not been a good signing as he has failed to start in the team for a long time.

The departures of Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, and Ousmane Dembélé were notable. It is safe to say that Barcelona did not have a transfer window that allowed them to replace them. Busquets has been the biggest miss as his ability in midfield is badly missed. One of the biggest mistakes Barcelona made in the transfer window was not to spend on a reliable pivot, which has created problems in their rest defense structure.

Yamal has helped reduce the impact of Dembélé’s departure, but placing such a big responsibility on a 16-year-old is not the correct choice. He is still young and raw, and needs some time to attain the maturity and consistency expected from a player at Barcelona.

Joao Felix of FC Barcelona celebrates 5-0 with Ilkay Gundogan of FC Barcelona, Joao Cancelo of FC Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League match...
Barcelona’s signings this season- Ilkay Gundogan, Joao Cancelo, Joao Felix

Koundé’s Resurgence

Barcelona signed Jules Koundé from Sevilla with high expectations, given he was already one of the best defenders in La Liga. Xavi had his centre-back pairing sorted with Ronald Araujo and Andreas Christensen, which is why Koundé was opted to play at right back due to his versatility. Last season, Koundé played well, but was moved to the central part of defence when Barcelona faced Vinicius Jr. as Araujo was preferred in the matchup.

This season, Koundé has shown remarkable improvement in his quality. He has faced some of the best wingers in the world like Kylian Mbappé, Kvara Khvaratshelia, and Vinicius, but they have not been a problem for him. Barcelona often tries to build up by passing to Koundé, who either carries the ball while midfielders occupy the spaces or releases it for Yamal, and he has not made any mistakes all season.

Barcelona has been searching for the perfect right back post Dani Alves, and although Koundé is not that kind of attacking fullback, he looks settled and composed at that position. He has been one of the biggest positives this season, and it will be interesting to see how he does next season.

Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain in action with Jules Kounde of FC Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg match...
Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain in action with Jules Kounde of FC Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final

Is Xavi Really the Person Barcelona Needs?

Barcelona fans were surprised when Xavi announced he would leave after this season, only to later declare that he would stay after Barcelona’s elimination from the UCL and their loss to Madrid, which ended their hopes of winning La Liga. This seemed odd, but it is in line with the way Joan Laporta and his presidency have worked. Laporta stated that “losing will have consequences,” but this has not been the case for Xavi’s tenure.

This season has been mediocre for the club, and Xavi has made some mistakes. For example, starting Sergi Roberto in crucial games while benching players like Pedri (who has had injury problems but should have started against Girona) and Fermin has not been understood.

Additionally, the rest defense is not up to the standards of a top club. Trusting players like Marc-André ter Stegen and Robert Lewandowski while not giving chances to players like Vitor Roque does not point in the right direction. It can be inferred that Barcelona needed a manager who could help build the foundation for the new project, and Xavi was the right choice.

Now that Xavi has built the foundation by bringing in young players like Cubarsi, Yamal, and Fermin López, Barcelona should aim for a manager who can build his own apartment on the foundation Xavi has laid. Xavi’s project has probably reached its ceiling, and the sooner Barcelona’s board realizes this, the better.

Xavi Hernandez is coaching during the match between Girona FC and FC Barcelona for week 34 of LaLiga EA Sports, played at Montilivi Stadium in...
Xavi Hernandez looks disappointed during the match between Girona FC and FC Barcelona

Perhaps if Xavi gains more experience elsewhere, he could return to Barcelona in the future. For now, he has done what he was brought in to do: bring youth, competitiveness, and a winning mentality to the team.

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