Fruitless Pursuit of Players is Making Barcelona Look Very Bad

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 13: Lionel Messi of Barcelona reacts during the Supercopa de Espana Supercopa Final 1st Leg match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at Camp Nou on August 13, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images,)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 13: Lionel Messi of Barcelona reacts during the Supercopa de Espana Supercopa Final 1st Leg match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at Camp Nou on August 13, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images,) /

As other clubs catch up to Barcelona, their attempts to stay among Europe’s elite have been rebuffed in shameful fashion. Will they be left in the dark?

Remember when Barcelona was at liberty to cut ties with players we consider stars in the Premier League? They let Alexis Sanchez, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro and more go without a thought. Only they could do that.


Because Neymar picked Barcelona. Because they knew they could pull Luis Suarez from Liverpool. Heck, going way back, Thierry Henry left Arsenal for bigger, better things at Barcelona. Who wouldn’t want to play there?

Over the course of this summer, the narrative has shifted drastically. Dani Ceballos? Picked Real Madrid. Vinicius Junior? Picked Real Madrid even though Barcelona offered him more money.

The club that convinced Liverpool to give up the centerpiece of a near-title winning season just three years ago can’t convince the same club to give up a player for perhaps double what he is worth in Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian is good, but £119m? To slightly modify an old Tweet from Liverpool owner John Henry, what do you think they’re smoking over there at the Camp Nou?

The reported agreement to sign Jean Michael Seri from Nice is a step in the right direction. However, the public chasing of Coutinho and Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele (to no avail, I might add) reflects quite poorly on the club that has previously been able to pluck whoever they wanted from wherever they wanted.

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Whether it is Ernesto Valverde pining for specific personnel, or the higher-ups, with whom Barcelona fans aren’t too happy with, this signifies a problem. The biggest, best names on the team sheet are entering their 30s. Some have already been there a while.

A time may soon come when Messi and Suarez can’t play every day. Never mind that no answer has been found on the left-wing yet—is it really possible that the best options if the stars are rested are Paco Alcacer and Gerard Deulofeu? Andre Gomes completing what feels like one out of every 10 passes when 33-year-old Andres Iniesta needs a break?

That is not Barcelona, that is just embarrassing.

When clubs publicly announce they are “close” to signing players, fans have a right to get excited. If neither Dembele or Coutinho winds up a Barcelona player, can fans ever trust the ownership again?

Ironically, given the Coutinho situation, Liverpool have experienced much of the same. Plenty of hype surrounded the near-definite coups of Naby Keita and Virgil van Dijk, but all the fans got was a shameful public apology to Southampton. It’s a world cup year and clubs hold all the power. All they have to do is hold it over their heads—we don’t sell, you don’t play, you aren’t going to Russia.

Barcelona should have seen this coming. Clubs like Liverpool and Dortmund may not be among Europe’s most elite, but they are still among the best. They’ve been doormats for too long in terms of selling talent, and now they can hold firm with stable financial situations and enough talent to challenge for trophies.

Seri is an example of good business. Of course Barcelona have the Neymar money, so of course teams will ask for a lot. Nice is going to take the influx of cash. Real Betis sold Ceballos to an in-league rival because they’d rather the money than a star on a mid-table team. Any talent plucked out of Brazil, Argentina or another lesser league in Europe like the Eredivisie would be smart because those clubs hardly hold the power. Perhaps there isn’t a well-known “sure thing” in those areas now, but that’s what scouts are for.

It’s possible there were signs that stars would be easier to sign than they have proven so far. That type of thing is only for those associated with the club to know. All we know is, every time Barcelona offer for Coutinho or Dembele, the “asking price” from their respective clubs continues to rise. It seems like the only way one will be acquired is if Barcelona get close to what PSG paid them for Neymar. As good as those players are, Barcelona should never spend that type of money on second-tier stars.

Barcelona fans must tire of waking up to more and more rumors with no action. The La Liga season started. Under two weeks remain in the transfer window. Real Madrid possess the easiest of roads to the title with Barcelona floundering. With the lack of depth as well, Champions League might as well be an afterthought.

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This summer has been far from ideal for Barcelona. Time remains to salvage it, but not much. If the club can’t improve in the next couple weeks, there will be hell to pay.

On top of that, if they can’t bring in one of or both Coutinho and/or Dembele? Barcelona will look worse than they already do.