Will austerity become a problem? Master Barça in check

 Will austerity become a problem?  Master Barça in check

This is how the transfer window went

FC Barcelona made some changes to the squad again in the summer of 2023. While there were numerous newcomers to the Catalans last year, FCB lost many players this time. Club icons Jordi Alba (34) and Sergio Busquets (35) both moved to Lionel Messi and Inter Miami after their contracts ended. The 36-year-old Argentinian world champion did not return after his working paper at Paris St. Germain expired. Club legend Messi said in an interview that he didn’t want to provoke any other players to cut their salaries and wanted to break the structure.

Franck Kessié recently left FCB for Al-Ahli in Saudi Arabia. After just one year in Catalonia, the 26-year-old Ivorian has brought in at least 12.5 million euros. Ousmane Dembelé (26) will also go, PSG wants to draw a clause of 50 million euros for the Frenchman who is willing to change – which annoyed the promoter and coach Xavi and left them with a lack of understanding.

So it’s clear that Barça, a club that remains heavily indebted, is going into austerity. Central defender Clement Lenglet (28), whose loan to Tottenham Hotspur ended and who is now said to be very popular with Milan, could also leave the club. Barcelona, ​​who, for example, got Samuel Umtiti (29, contract termination and move to Lille) off the payroll, did not have to accept particularly well-known departures.

The Spanish champions strengthened themselves with Footballer of the Year 2023 Ilkay Gündogan (32) and six Oriol Romeu (31), who hails from La Masia and understands the Catalans’ style of play. Both midfielders, like central defender Inigo Martinez (32), did not cost a fee. After all, the Blaugrana paid 2.5 million euros to SC Freiburg for offensive talent Noah Darvich (16), who should initially be used by the second team in the third-highest Spanish league.

Difficult to assess preparation – problem area full-back

Despite the next upheaval, the preparations went well in terms of results, FCB defeated Real Madrid (3-0) and AC Milan (1-0) in the USA without conceding a goal. The clear 3:5 against the English runners-up FC Arsenal remains a thorn in the side, in which the new vice-captain Marc-André ter Stegen often had to reach behind him. The aluminum also saved five times against the royal team. In the dress rehearsal against Tottenham Hotspur (4:2) it became clear again that there were defensive weaknesses.

The line of defense in front of the 31-year-old German national goalkeeper is Barça’s biggest construction site, especially in the outer positions. Ronald Araujo (24) plays at right back despite being a centre-back. Xavi does not build on Sergino Dest (22), captain and all-rounder Sergi Roberto (32) is more of an emergency solution. Xavi is keen to sign a ‘real’ right-back and Araujo also had to be substituted against Spurs. Manchester City’s Joao Cancelo is a candidate apparently on the market after his unsuccessful Bayern loan move.

Xavi will probably have a problem at left back in the future if Balde, who is only 19 years old, is injured. Jordi Alba was available as a backup last season – now the 32-year-old, slower and weaker offensive Marcos Alonso is the replacement there.

La Liga top scorer Robert Lewandowski (34) remains in the front row and despite Dembelé’s impending departure, Xavi is ‘happy with the wingers’. There is a weakness, but the Frenchman was absent last season as so often longer and was replaced. In addition to Raphinha (26), Ansu Fati (20), who scored against Milan and Tottenham, or Gavi, who is still a teenager, could occupy the left wing, while Ferran Torres (23) is also available. Loan returnee Abde (21) also drew attention to himself in the preparation.

The youth gives hope

In addition to the cohesion of large parts of the starting XI, Barcelona gives hope to the youth, for example the only 16-year-old attacker Lamine Yamal, who turned up the heat against the Spurs. Homegrown Fermin Lopez (20), who scored against Real, is another central midfield alternative to Gündogan, Frenkie de Jong (26), Gavi and Pedri (20), who recently joined the club.

But it is also true that a Busquets, the Cornerstone in midfield, needs to be replaced. Although Xavi is very happy with Oriol Romeu, the former Stuttgart native has big shoes to fill. On top of that, the squad lacks depth in addition to some (international) experience – a point in which Real Madrid, for example, is clearly ahead.

Squad depth could be a concern

Barça must minimize the loss of central players in order to be able to defend the championship. The wingers and Lewandowski are challenged up front, Dembelé’s twelve league scorer points from the previous season have to be compensated for first. The fact that Gündogan is new in the control center could be a decisive factor – as well as the strong main defense last year around ter Stegen, Balde, Andreas Christensen (27), Jules Koundé (24) and Araujo. But there are few top alternatives here, and opposing pressing often caused problems for the defense in preparation.


Clear progress is needed internationally. In the Champions League, in which Barcelona is allowed to participate again despite the “Negreira case”, there is room for improvement: the Blaugrana were eliminated twice after the preliminary round and were relegated to the Europa League, where each early in the knockout. phase was over. After all, this time the round of the last 16 in the premier class should be reached. In Spain, the championship, which begins for FCB at FC Getafe, or the double is realistic – as long as everything works defensively and there are no major injuries.

Also read:
Ancelotti’s balancing act with Bellingham – Real Madrid in check


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here