Barcelona’s exit in the second round of the Champions League was expected after a whopping first-leg defeat at Camp Nou to Paris Saint-Germain.
Dreams of another Remontada belied the fact that they would be playing away from home, and that they didn’t have the players this time around to mount such a fantastic comeback (while PSG were arguably a better team this time around).
And yet, while there was hope, there was also a moratorium on criticising the players. As long as those players could do the impossible, they were either tacitly supported or openly praised.
After last night though, the shackles were off and Barcelona fans vented their frustrations at the players and the club’s transfer policy.
Many fans wanted to see Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele sold, with a common refrain being how Barcelona had wasted the record-breaking transfer fee for Neymar by failing to improve the team.
Coutinho, Griezmann, Dembele should all be sold, but there isn’t a single club in the world that will pay what they earn or make a decent offer.
— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) March 10, 2021
I once read that Haaland's buy out clause is €70m,
But we bought Griezmann, Coutinho and Dembele for almost €450m.
Im in pains… 😩 😩 😩 😭 😭
— PSG/Barca Femeni Principal ⚽ ❤️💙 (@BarcaPrincipal) March 10, 2021
Barca played brilliant football. Its not their day today, few important points –
•Barca should renew Mingueza
•Barca should sell Dembele, Lenglet, Coutinho, Griezmann(if Messi stays), Pjanic.
•Messi goal is probably the goal of the year till now 🚀
•Koeman is doing good 👍
— Amit (@SUPERLM10_1) March 10, 2021
Sorry, guys. I know Dembele has *improved* but I'd sell him along with Griezmann and Coutinho in a heartbeat. This is as good as it gets IMO. "Aw, great run until the finish"…. "Nice fake shot but bad pass". What's the point?
— J Asante (@Jnicee17) March 10, 2021
With Joan Laporta coming in as the new club president and manager Ronald Koeman seemingly still in favour, Barcelona have three major goals left this season.
The world’s best player is expected to stay at the club, and Joan Laporta is expected to speak to him to convince him of his plans to improve the squad.
This is possibly the easiest of the three tasks – after all, this is about making plans and promises until Messi signs the dotted line.
La Liga title race
Barcelona are second in the league table, six points behind Atletico Madrid, two ahead of Real Madrid and with 12 games to go in the season.
With El Clasico in April and Barcelona hosting Atletico in May, there are plenty of chances of changes in the top three before the end of the season.
Barcelona are currently the form team in the league, and if they can keep up the pressure by winning all their remaining games, the title race may come down to that clash with Atletico at Camp Nou on May 9.
Fighting for the title at home is the best Barcelona could have hoped for at one point this season – it may just be what redeems the team this year.
Transfer plans (and Erling Haaland)
Barcelona’s financial problems are well documented, and last year we spoke about why so many players were up for sale at Barcelona.
The situation has not improved, so the club must sell before they can buy and are looking at free transfers to improve their options.
Luckily, both Erik Garcia and Sergio Aguero are available on free transfers this summer from Manchester City and Georginio Wijnaldum from Liverpool – assuming Barcelona can convince them to sign.
If Barcelona can sell a couple of high-priced stars, they would have the funds needed and space on the wage bill to bring in the right players.
Coutinho is the biggest target of fans’ ire, but Dembele and Pjanic are close behind, and Griezmann has his detractors as well.
Shifting players on high wages in a depressed market will be Barcelona and Laporta’s biggest challenge this summer.
Signing Erling Braut Haaland may be a pipe dream – even Laporta’s investors will not put in the 100 million Euros required without requiring the club to recoup at least of that in transfer sales this summer.