Barcelona is in a difficult spot at the moment. We dominated the league and won the domestic cup but there is disappointment over the brand of football Ernesto Valverde has introduced to the club.
Barcelona was always a free-flowing machine of attacking football that switched gears as methodically as a Formula One driver. Players like Xavi and Iniesta controlled the tempo of the game alongside Busquets for much of the golden generation and with two of those three names now in retirement, there’s need for reinforcements.
“Project 22” was an abject failure in the midfield department as none of the youngsters brought in have established themselves as starters. Barcelona has continued to rely on Ivan Rakitic, Paulinho and Andres Iniesta as interiors and signing Arthur will not change that trend.
Valverde had the tools to play a 4-3-3 all season but the coach preferred to play with a 4-4-2 despite criticism. Players like Ousmane Dembele and Coutinho are more productive on the wings and positioning them as wide midfielders impairs their creativity.
Barcelona might be on the verge of signing Arthur but there is no question that Valverde has chosen to rely on someone like Paulinho over Andre Gomes; considering that the latter has the higher ceiling, there should have been a more even distribution of minutes between the players. At the very least, more minutes would have cleared the confusion on whether Andre Gomes is good for the club.
Arthur is arriving but if Paulinho isn’t sold, there’s a good chance that the midfield will continue to be some combination of Busquets, Rakitic and Paulinho for most of next season.
Preseasons can be deceptive, much like Barca’s last year and I doubt this time will be any different.