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Are Xavi’s old team-mates holding Barcelona back?

New season, same old story…

Barcelona v Santos - Pre Season Friendly Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Barca’s biggest game of the season is upon them, and a win over Betis at the Benito Villamarin will guarantee Champions League football for the Catalans next season.

It would represent the completion of the first stage of Xavi and Joan Laporta’s plan and, potentially, be a decent carrot in terms of attracting new players to the club.

It’s worth asking the question as to exactly who might be coming in too.

Xavi has made it quite clear in which positions he wants strengthening, but what’s interesting is that there’s been no real definitive comment from the coach as to which players will be making way.

As supporters we can make educated guesses for a handful. The likes of Martin Braithwaite, Luuk de Jong, Adama Traore and Riqui Puig et al are unlikely to have any sort of future at the club.

FC Barcelona V RCD Mallorca - La Liga Photo by Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto via Getty Images

What of Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Dani Alves and Sergi Roberto though? The players that have supposedly in the past made up part of the ‘club de amigos.’

Players that are still dining out on past glories whilst stunting the growth of Barca’s youngsters or denying new signings the opportunity to gain a foothold.

Are they all truly worthy of their place at present and does their experience elevate them above their contemporaries?

Can it be said that whilst they’re not the world beaters they once were, they are still box office enough to edge out other pretenders to their throne?

Alves has proved beyond doubt that his simple way of understanding his right-sided role is more than enough to keep him ahead of Sergino Dest who succeeds only in tying himself in knots. The Brazilian isn’t a long or even short term solution, however.

The second of the defensive trio, Jordi Alba, has never really had a player to properly challenge him for the left-sided berth.

FC Barcelona v RCD Mallorca - La Liga Santander Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Buy well in the summer and it has to be bye bye Alba I’m afraid.

Pique is a hugely interesting case study at present. A man who seems to have his focus anywhere but on the football pitch but still ends up being the most important defender for the club.

Perhaps the question here is how much longer Xavi and the club should rely on him?

Ronald Araujo is developing well and is a leader in the making. Is it brave or stupid to have the Uruguayan +1 as the mainstay of the defence next season?

Sergio Busquets could certainly do with being rested more often in 2022/23 but I just don’t see that happening for any number of reasons.

Should that situation come to pass it could bite Xavi on the backside.

Finally, Sergi Roberto… and you tell me why he has been offered another year…