Pre-season training has already begun in earnest for FC Barcelona, as players slowly but surely work their way back to match fitness.
In a week’s time the Catalans will play Juventus in their first match of a tour of the USA, and will also take in friendlies against Arsenal and Manchester United before flying home for the Gamper match against Tottenham Hotspur.
Although each match is unlikely to have the intensity of a league game, it will still provide Xavi with the opportunity to run the rule over his players and see who is already up for the forthcoming season.
There are a handful of players that have a point to prove over these next few weeks and months too.
I’m getting Guardiola-Eto’o vibes with Sergino Dest.
The American is clearly not rated by Xavi, and yet he has been offered an olive branch by the coach and the opportunity to resurrect his fading career.
Barca are desperate for a commanding right-back to both help in attack and be strong and agile at the back.
Dest hasn’t impressed over the past couple of seasons including when he was on loan, so this is very much the last chance saloon for him at Barca.
Can he become as important for Xavi as Eto’o was for Pep in 2008-09?
We can still hope. Ansu is a delightful player when he’s on song, but the fact that Barca were prepared to force him out of the club this summer tells you everything you need to know.
The supposed heir to Lionel Messi, the youngster simply has to find the confidence in himself and the accuracy in his shooting to make him one of the most feared strikers in the league once more.
Was too much pressure put on him when he broke into the first-team? Undoubtedly. A ‘blip’ was probably to be expected.
However, his under-par showings have gone on for too long now. Shape up or be shipped out.
It’s make or break this season for Eric Garcia, no two ways about it.
Though still only 22 years of age, the Spaniard has been around long enough to have picked up the basics of the role for which he has been tasked, and yet there’s still a niggling feeling that Eric just hasn’t ‘got it.’
He is too clumsy and erratic for a Barcelona centre-back and looks like a fish out of water as a pivot.
He needs to grasp any opportunities with both hands and show much more maturity than he has to this point.
Seeing how well the 21-year-old Moroccan did at Osasuna whilst on loan, it will be interesting to see whether he can translate that form into something approaching the wing play that Barca will need from him.
Unlike Ansu or Ferran, Abde doesn’t appear hamstrung by a lack of confidence.
That fearlessness, whilst needing to be harnessed, could be a brilliant asset for Xavi to unleash, particularly off the bench.