When Barcelona took to the field against Bayern Munich, they had the oldest squad in terms of average age that they’ve ever used in the competition.
It was a reminder that old Father Time waits for no man and that the brightness of the Blaugranes golden generation will soon lose its sheen.
This summer, and potentially this winter, will be decisive in determining how well Barca can not only work the transfer market to their advantage, but if they can bring down the average age of the squad in so doing.
Josep Maria Bartomeu named his seven ‘untouchables’ last night in an interview with Barca TV, leaving out the likes of Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal and Luis Suarez.
The question is, which of those players over 30 should Barca be looking to retain, and which should, ideally, be kept...
Depending on what side of the fence you sit, this is the toughest one to call.
Notwithstanding the weekend’s news where Leo has said he will, apparently, quit the club if the board don’t leave, he is either the saviour of the club or the problem.
Without him, Barca are often rudderless. With him, almost every move sees him involved at one stage or another.
Bartomeu insists he’s not for sale and I make no apologies for suggesting that the best ever should be kept around for as long as he wants to be.
Said he would be the first out of the door if it meant that the club evolved in the right way.
Has lost a yard of pace but not his footballing brain. Would be a harsh decision to dispense with him at this point, but perhaps worth revisiting the conversation in another year’s time.
By then, Ronald Araujo and, potentially, Eric Garcia might be ready to assume the central defensive reins.
Lost the ball three times in the opening 30 seconds against Bayern and looked lost for large parts of the game.
Has been immaculate in other matches, however.
Isn’t the force he once was but remains reliable and dependable, if unspectacular, and deserves another year.
Taken up a slot which has meant no room for the likes of Riqui Puig.
Still competitive and has always work his heart on his sleeve at the club, but if Busi takes up one midfield position, then Arturo has to go.
Has a lot of haters who have wanted him out of the Camp Nou for months now.
Would be an option from the bench at best moving forward which is unlikely to suit the player.
There are decent arguments to sell him at this point.
Not yet a busted flush or a one-trick pony, Suarez could, nevertheless, be considered as surplus to requirements.
By keeping him in the centre-forward position, it’s conditioning not only who comes into the frontline to supplement him and Messi, but also the position that they will play in.
Whilst he could still command a reasonable transfer fee, he should be considered for sale.
By virtue of having no one else in place that could justifiably put Alba under consistent pressure week in and week out, the club will need to keep hold of him.
It shouldn’t be overlooked either that we look at our most dangerous the more often Alba gets into those forward positions, but as age catches up with him, getting back into defensive positions after those attacking forays will become more problematic.