This is another atypical summer for Barcelona, though it’s becoming the norm and that’s pretty frightening.
No money to spend it seems, despite freeing themselves of the not insignificant salaries of Messrs. Pique, Busquets and Alba.
And yet, what are the club doing? They are still desperately trying to sign players for not inconsequential amounts from other teams.
Back in 2015, I interviewed Joan Laporta ahead of the presidential elections and was the only person to be granted a one on one interview with him at that time.
It took placed at his Pel Barca headquarters just around the corner from Passeig de Gracia and one thing that he said stuck with me more than any other.
“La Masia is one of our pillars. In our model we have a genuine style of playing football from Johan Cruyff.
A style of football that has been recognised and admired by all the world. La Masia is our academy. It’s our dreams factory. When a kid arrives at Football Club Barcelona at nine years old he has a dream, and we have the coaches that try to make real that dream.
“And the dream is real when the player, the young guy, does well after a long process and arrives to the first team. This is a process, there are a lot of people involved in this process - coaches, teachers - because first we try to educate young people. And then they have to be good players.”
He also went on to say:
“We think that the best model is a model that has La Masia, our academy, as a system to make the club sustainable. Not just sportingly, economically as well. In my opinion these opponents [Rosell, Bartomeu] decided to extinguish La Masia [...] My model is to keep producing players in La Masia, playing under this genuine style of football.
Looking back over that interview now, those words are quite pertinent and it leads me to question why does it often seem that the club are looking outside of La Masia nowadays when the answers to some of our playing problems may arguably be found closer to home?
Our economic situation back in 2015 was nowhere near as bad as it is at the moment, and yet the first thought seems to be to buy in from outside.
It’s accepted that, perhaps, there isn’t quite the depth of talent to be able to pull from at this point, however, that shouldn’t stop Xavi from being brave.
Laporta has said the following in regards to how Barca will replace Sergio Busquets.
“Xavi understands the club’s situation. He would like to reinforce the midfield but he knows that some options are unfeasible and it would be wrong to sign one of them,”
“It would cut the progression of Marc Casadó, Pau Prim, Gerard Hernández and Marc Bernal. First we have to look at what we have.”
Let’s not forget about Nico Gonzalez and Ez Abde either. Two players who spent last season on loan and are far from guaranteed to still be at the club when the new season starts.
Have the club, its executives, stakeholders, sponsors, first-team staff and culers all become that impatient for success that we’re unwilling to wait for a squad to be rebuilt from the ground up? Is football really all about immediate rewards now?
It is a sorry state of affairs when everything that once made us different, made us ‘mes que un club’ is being eroded in the rush for the corporate dollar.
Certain things - like shirt sponsorship - can be more readily accepted than others, but when the very essence of Barca is being taken away, it doesn’t sit well with me and I’m sure not with many of you reading this.
Personally, I’d rather forego silverware for the next couple of seasons if he meant we could get back to ‘being Barca,’ though I fear that this is something of a romantic and utopian notion.