Andres Iniesta’s career is in its twilight, sadly, but the “pale knight” delivered another season’s worth of brilliance. He was rotated heavily, some would even say too much, but he was a very important part of the team’s successes. His presence was a calming factor for Barça, but it’s clear that the club cannot rely on him to play 90 minutes as often anymore.
Turan had a sparkling few matches, mostly in dead rubbers and as a forward. His poor decision to foul against Real Madrid at Camp Nou was a turning point in La Liga. Sergio Ramos scored in the last minute from the ensuing free kick to end el Clasico in a draw. When Turan was on his game, he was quite productive as Neymar’s deputy, but he was not very effective at all as a midfielder, where he was truly needed. Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez are young and were in their first season for Barça, Rafinha is young and was hampered by injury... what was Arda’s excuse? He was bought because he was a proven midfielder in La Liga and in one-and-a-half seasons he never came close to that function.
Rafinha started the year unsure if he had any role and ended it as a starter... before going down injured. Other than that, Rafinha was maybe the most useful midfielder past the starting trio of Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, and Ivan Rakitic. He played as a midfielder and was instrumental as a right wing in the 3-4-3 formation. He scored goals, too, notably a crucial one against Atletico Madrid. Still, he missed huge chunks of the season due to injuries and that is the biggest obstacle for him, as it is a recurring problem. To be fair, it might be genetic: his brother, Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara, also suffered from many injuries. And maybe, like Thiago, Rafinha can seemingly grow out of it soon... or maybe it’s just a bit of luck he needs.
The season gave you the feeling that Suarez didn’t get as many minutes to prove himself as he should, but looking at it... well, he started just one less game in the league than Iniesta, and made more appearances overall. True, he was barely used in the big games or in the Champions League, but that should make his performances stand out more, right? And the truth is while Suarez had good games, he never put enough of them together to really convince. Now, that’s partly not his fault, as Luis Enrique did not make pick him consistently, and he was often asked to play in various positions. Still, as much as I like Denis, I think this season was a disappointment. He’s already proven himself quite capable at Villarreal, where was his impact this season? Again, all the caveats I mentioned are there, but still. That said, I still think he’ll be a good player in the long run.