Barcelona’s shambolic transfer window will not just have ramifications on the pitch, where the Blaugrana look seriously under-equipped to mount a serious challenge for major honours.
The club’s haphazard approach to the past couple of months could also see significant changes behind the scenes, with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu facing an uncertain future as former presidential candidate Agusti Benedito launches a formal vote of no confidence.
Benedito now has roughly two weeks to collect around 16,500 signatures – 15 percent of the total number of club members – in order to force early presidential elections, and considering the current state of the club he’d have to do a pretty bad job not to secure the necessary support.
Barcelona are in a mess, with their enormously disorganised attitude to the transfer window starkly illustrating the current board’s lack of direction.
You may recall they began the summer with a clumsy attempt to sign Marco Verratti from Paris St Germain. It made sense because Verratti is exactly the kind of player the team needs to succeed Andres Iniesta as the main midfield orchestrator, but the manner of their approach – simply assuming that PSG would give way – left a lot to be desired.
Of course, the French club showed their mettle by not only repelling Barca’s bid for Verratti, but then by stealing away Neymar from under their noses.
Enough has been said about that record-breaking transfer, which left Barcelona looking foolish indeed, but perhaps an even bigger indictment is what happened next in terms of the Verratti deal.
If Barca decided they wanted a player like Verratti, wouldn’t you think their next step would be to attempt to sign a player with similar qualities? Someone like Jean Michael Seri from Nice, for example.
For a while that seemed likely, but then – with Seri obviously ready to move – Barca suddenly and inexplicably abandoned their interest, leaving him high and dry, and decided the only midfielder they wanted was Paulinho, a completely different type of player to both Iniesta and Verratti.
There was Coutinho, of course, who has never really looked like the kind of player who can build from deep, preferring to operate around the edge of the penalty area, but even if he is the right player for the role – which seems dubious – Barca couldn’t even secure that target, appearing to believe that Liverpool could be bullied into changing their “not for sale” stance.
Throughout this sorry saga, key player Lionel Messi has been watching quietly in the background, refusing to sign the contract he supposedly agreed two months ago, allowing himself to move within four months of becoming available for a free transfer.
The poor work of Bartomeu’s administration runs far deeper than just this window, however. They have been gradually taking the club backwards for years, with a series of ugly scandals badly sullying the long-cherished ‘More Than A Club’ motto, which now appears little more than a pipe dream rather than a guiding standard.
Bartomeu is undoubtedly tarnished by his close association with his predecessor and long-time ally Sandro Rosell, who is now in prison for a separate case of corruption.
And now, surely, enough is enough. Even the most traditionally conservative fans should be sufficiently alarmed to decide they need a new president: Bartomeu’s time is up.
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