Barcelona came into this year losing their greatest player and possibly the greatest player of all time in Lionel Messi. On top of that, the club is in debt, reportedly in excess of 1 Billion Euros, and as av result the Catalan club needs to shed salaries and even if they do that they are still nowhere near the cap that La Liga has put on each team so who can go about changing Barcelona’s fortunes?
They have a coach in Ronald Koeman that is not wanted by upper management, specifically Joan Laporta, not to mention the millions they lost on the failed Antoine Griezmann transfer last summer. You add all of this up and it seems dire at the club right now, and there is no way back. Further evidence of the clubs woes has been seen through poor performances in the Champions League.
Five Players Key to Changing Barcelona’s Fortunes
Five Players to Change Direction of Alarming Slide
Despite all of the turmoil on and off the pitch at Camp Nou there are five players capable of changing Barcelona’s fortunes. This team is not devoid of talent by any stretch, and these five players are symbolic of that. These five players are Pedri, Frankie De Jong, Ansu Fati, Marc Andre Ter Stegen, and Memphis Depay. Each of these stars possesses lots talent and has shown that numerous times already this year and in the past.
Pedri is an 18-year-old Spanish attacking midfielder who came up through the famed academy, the Barcelona youth system. The Spaniard already has a nailed-down starting spot for the Catalan club when he is healthy. His country has already capped the young phenomenon and he started all six games at the Euros when he became the first player ever to do that while being 18 or younger. The Spanish youngster completed all 56 of his passes against Italy, becoming only the second player in the history of the Euros to accomplish that. Pedri is already breaking records on the grandest stage, and he is still a teenager. When you look at his return while in a Barcelona shirt, that is impressive as well. He notched 4 goals and five assists last year in 36 appearances in all competitions with only 12 of these being starts. There is no doubt by what he has done for the national team and Barcelona that this player will help Barcelona back to the top sooner than people think. This is why he is one of the five players that will turn this sinking Barcelona ship around sooner rather then later.
Ansu Fati was born in Guinea but decided to represent Spain at the international level. He is also 18 and plays as a forward for Barcelona. He has been injured since last November after hurting his knee that required two different surgeries. However, he made his triumphant return last weekend against Levante and even notched a goal. You could see what he brings to the team the second he steps foot on the pitch. He led Barcelona to a comfortable win and looked like he hadn’t lost a step. Last year, the Guinean-born superstar scored five goals in 10 games before his horrific injury. He has even scored a goal for the national team in his second game with the senior side. Fati was on an upward trajectory clearly before the injury last year, and there is no reason why he won’t pick right up where he left off.
De Jong is in his second year with the club, and his impact is undeniable. He plays in a central midfield role for Barcelona and controls the game, whether as a defensive midfielder or further up the pitch in a more attacking role. De Jong has nine goals and 14 assists in 100 appearances for the Catalan club. He joined the team from Ajax in the summer of 2019, coming off Ajax’s unlikely run to the Champions League semifinals. The Dutch midfielder was reportedly one of the untouchables this year in the Barcelona offseason fire sale to attempt to shed salary. The former Ajax product already has 33 appearances for his country, and he is only 24. Some of those were made for his coach Ronald Koeman, who might not be in Catalan that much longer. However, his country sees how good he truly is and his importance to the national side. The fabulous Andrea Pirlo, former legendary midfielder for AC Milan and Juventus most notably, even likened De Jong to himself back in 2019. This is high praise from someone of Pirlo’s ilk and demonstrates the talent and impact this player has on the game. Barcelona paid Ajax 65 million Euros for the signing of De Jong.
Ter Stegen is a little older than others on this list but he is a superstar keeper. For years, he has been overshadowed because of all the individual talent in more glamorous positions at Barcelona and simply cant understate his importance to the side. He also has never been the first-choice keeper in the German national team because of Manuel Neuer and these two things have caused him to be overlooked for the impact he makes. He was able to keep 11 clean sheets last year in 31 appearances in the league averaging a goal a game conceded in that time. Ter Stegen averaged the same goals per game number the year before but had 14 clean sheets in 36 appearances. The German is very consistent in always being on the field and being consistently excellent when he is. He may not be performing up to par in the Champions League this year but you have to take into account that he is playing behind a leaky and undisciplined defense. His stats in the league are much better and compare well to his previous numbers.
Depay is in his first year with Barcelona after completing his move this summer from Lyon. The often-maligned forward was signed on a free transfer by the Blaugrana this summer and the controversial forward has had a great return so far in the league scoring three goals and an assist in 6 starts. Depay had an impressive last year for Lyon, scoring 20 goals and registering 12 assists in Ligue 1. He more than earned his move back to a big club after his torrid time at Manchester United from 2015 to 2017. The talented forward will also be asked to carry more of the load than he thought when he signed as Antoine Griezmann has since left completing his homecoming move back to Atletico Madrid. When you throw in the fact that the oft-injured Sergio Aguero is on the shelf again, Depay will be counted on to supply most of the goals and he is more than capable of converting chances and creating them for others. When you factor in the 33 goals he has scored for the national team in 70 appearances, Depay has the ability and experience to become the goal poacher Barcelona desperately needs right now.
Changing Barcelona’s Fortunes – No Easy Task
These five players all have the ability between them to help turn Barcelona’s season around but it will be no easy task and once the international break is over they will need to hit the ground running if they are ti save a season that is rapidly heading toward a failure the Catalan club have rarely seen in recent decades.
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