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Barcelona are a long way off from being the finished article

Even some of the biggest clubs in world football have to start again from somewhere to rediscover the glorious heights of years gone past. 

There are not too many more prestigious than Spanish giants FC Barcelona, with financial implications having a massive toll on them for a few seasons now. 

Despite being over €1 billion in debt, they have miraculously been able to splash the cash on two big-name signings in Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha from Bayern Munich and Leeds United for a reported €55 million and €72 million respectively, as well as midfielder Franck Kessié in free agency.

Those are three quality signings that have the potential to improve the squad from last season, but will that be enough for Xavi to make a real statement to their rivals?

Let’s start with Barcelona’s most vital third of the pitch that is most important for Xavi’s tactics and way of playing which is the middle of the park.

There is still no clear identity of who is going to play where. Is Kessie really a great fit for this club? A great physical presence and box-to-box player, but passing is not his number one attribute.

This ultimately raises questions to key players such as 34-year-old veteran Sergio Busquets and whether he has the legs to keep dictating the game in front of the back four and be that pivotal playmaker.

Frenkie De Jong’s future also needs to be sorted out as soon as possible because the Dutch prodigy is one of the few players who has that range of passing ability that can make something happen. The only bit of youth in that position is Pedri who has been phenomenal since his breakout season a couple of years ago, along with Gavi.

Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

Frenkie de Jong. (Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)

The Catalans are two or three midfield signings away from genuinely being able to compete with the big boys not only on paper but also have that much-needed depth that is required to make a push for major trophies. 

At the back, Barca has been a shambles for a long time now. Being heavily reliant on Gerard Pique has really backfired on the club, as his lack of pace and inability to get around the pitch with age has slowed down the process of signing a new centre-back.

Even so, the signing of Andreas Christensen from Chelsea does not signal a big enough fear factor and is a player that can be branded in the same bracket as names like Clément Lenglet.

Because of the financial instability within the club, it is forcing them to go after high-profile names in attack but the funds are then drying up for the defence, meaning they cannot turn to better options and have to settle for players such as Christensen. 

This can be confirmed through comments made by Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis. “Barcelona had come in, but they didn’t have the money because they are in debt.” 

Even the fullbacks have been questionable. When you think of Barcelona’s golden generation you turn your mind to Dani Alves and Jordi Alba who were monsters running up and down the flank and not just defending well, but also providing goals and assists. Alba is still there but it is no secret that he is getting on, so further investment needs to be looked at in this department. 

Barcelona had the sixth best defence in La Liga last campaign, so Xavi desperately needs to get some form of defensive partnership and solidity going.

The six-time European champions need to start embracing more youth through the new generation. French centre-back Jules Koundé from Sevilla is being touted as a possible option, but once again the €55 million asking price is stalling the deal for the 23-year-old.

During the pre-season tour in America, striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang praised the club saying “we are building an incredible team.” Most people would agree that they are in the attacking front, but is it enough to start competing from the get-go?

Inexperience will be a major barrier with players such as Raphinha and Ansu Fati who do not have much Champions League experience.

It can be argued that the mix of youth and experience is evident with Lewandowski, Aubameyang, and Depay being able to guide those players just mentioned along with Ousmane Dembele, but for how long will those experienced forwards stay at the club? Especially given the financial turmoil as already mentioned. 

There is no doubt that Barcelona has invested in a few players who can give that x-factor, but the club’s plan and long-term strategy will potentially come into question as the season moves on. 

The blueprint, direction, and spending of money need to be clearer to the Barca faithful.

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