It has been a busy couple of days at Barcelona, who have signed one new player, extended contracts for three more and agreed a new contract for their manager – all in the space of 48 hours.
This furious flurry of activity goes to show that, when they have to, football clubs can actually conduct their business very quickly.
It doesn’t usually happen like that. Take Real Madrid’s pursuit of David De Gea, for example, which everyone already knows has only one possible outcome: the goalkeeper moving to the Bernabeu. Both clubs know it, the player knows it, the media knows it and supporters know it, but the saga will probably rumble on for a few more weeks before agreement of the inevitable is finally reached.
That is perfectly normal in the football world, where negotiations and counter-negotiations are carried out at snail’s pace until everyone finally agrees on what they really knew all along. The impetus for Barcelona’s carousel of ink-on-paper has been the fact that club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has now resigned from his position in order to prepare for July’s presidential elections.
I’m defending my model because I believe that Barça needs to continue to grow and lead in the world of football.
— Josep Maria Bartomeu (@jmbartomeu) June 9, 2015
During the next six weeks, the club will be run by an administrative panel which is capable of keeping the club running from day-to-day, but does not have the power to make bigger hiring and firing decisions.
So it really was a case of ‘now or never’ for the Catalan club this week, and the results are certainly impressive with manager Luis Enrique and right-back Dani Alves ending speculation that they were leaving by signing new deals, while Aleix Vidal has been snapped up from Sevilla and Jordi Alba and Pedro have both agreed extended contracts.
The most immediate impact of all this is an uplift of support for Bartomeu, who has always been heavily tipped to lose this summer’s elections after overseeing a fraught period which saw the club hit by a series of disruptive and damaging off-the-pitch controversies. Now, with three newly-gained trophies at his disposal for photocalls and a bunch of well-received contractual transactions, Bartomeu’s future looks decidedly rosier.
Més que un Club. We keep on making history pic.twitter.com/B70BfEQLRX
— Josep Maria Bartomeu (@jmbartomeu) June 6, 2015
It may still not be enough for him to win, but at least he will be able to put up more of a fight following this recent display of administrative competence. Long-term, the bigger significance of this week’s deals will be their affect upon Barca’s all-conquering team, which can now look forward to next season with a much greater sense of assurance and stability.
Alves, in addition to his individual quality, would have been a great loss due to his close personal and professional relationship with Lionel Messi, who has once again reminded us just how inspirational he can be when he is happy and motivated. And although Enrique still faces harsh accusations that the players (specifically Messi) were the architects of the team’s splendour in the second half of the season, at the very least he was the man responsible for holding everything together and keeping everyone pulling in the right direction.
Losing him this summer would have been an enormous risk. All told, then, it has been a great few days for Barcelona. Next season is a long way off, of course, but right now the only remaining danger as they prepare to retain their various titles is complacency.
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