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Barcelona end with a whimper but all focus is on next season

Xavi’s honeymoon is over

FC Barcelona v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

With nothing to play for other than their pride and perhaps their place in the squad next season, it was a foregone conclusion that the players would take their feet off the gas in the match against Villarreal.

One shouldn’t really be overly critical on a night when it just didn’t matter what happened as the job had already been done beforehand.

It was no surprise to see Ousmane Dembele dropped either.

The Frenchman was always going to have Barca singing to his tune whether or not he decided to extend his deal, for the simple fact that he had been the club’s most important player in the second half of the season.

It will forever irk culers of course that the French World Cup winner’s best form has come in the few months before he leaves the club. Allegedly.

FC Barcelona v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Looking on the bright side from the club’s point of view, however, the saving on wages will be significant, and that should allow some wiggle room in the transfer market.

A transfer market which could be better for Barca than it will be for Real Madrid, after Kylian Mbappe played a blinder by turning down the latter.

Were it not for Benzema and our terrible start to the campaign, there’s even an argument to suggest that the title race would’ve been much tighter than it turned out.

In the spirit of looking forward and not back, who cares what Madrid did in 2021/22 and what they intend to do across the summer.

It’s all about what moves Barca wish to make now that will, ultimately, dictate their fate in 2022/23.

Notwithstanding that it’s highly likely Real will attempt to push them all way again too.

FC Barcelona v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

If there was anything at all for Xavi to be concerned about, it’s the expected turnover of staff.

Building a successful team is going to take a lot longer than half a campaign, and with so many staff expecting to leave, Xavi has to pick up the baton where he’s left off this season to ensure that Barca kick off 2022/23 in style.

Knowing where to strengthen straightaway will be the priority, and there are plenty of players who’ll be looking over their shoulders to see if they’ll be first out of the exit door.

After recharging batteries at the end of another gruelling season, Xavi and Joan Laporta will have to get to work immediately.

Next season’s team will be very much his own and there’ll be no hiding place now.

The honeymoon period is over.