Barcelona, Sep 20 (efe-epa).- Thirty seven days after that 8-2 humiliation at the hands of German giants Bayern Munich in the sweltering heat of Lisbon, and just one week before the start of the new LaLiga season, there is still no sign of the revolution promised by beleaguered Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu.
That night in the Stadium of Light, arguably the darkest in Barcelona’s history, Bartomeu promised to lead the club into a new era: “In the coming days we will take decisions. Many of them had already been taken before we started this Champions League” campaign.
So far, very little has materialised – except for Lionel Messi, the team’s captain, talisman and arguably the best footballer the world has ever seen, stating his desire to leave the club before returning to the fold.
Ronald Koeman has been brought in to end Quique Setien’s short-lived tenure, but Bartomeu’s enormous wage bill has barely been seen to. Only Ivan Rakitic has left, rejoining his former team, Sevilla, for a token fee, while Arturo Melo left in a swap deal with Juventus’ Miralem Pjanic.
The next departure will surely be Arturo Vidal to Inter Milan, again for a nominal, symbolic fee.
The case of striker Luis Suarez, meanwhile, is a shade more complicated, as the Uruguayan is loath to leave before his contract is up. Both players have been told they are not part of Koeman’s plans going forward.
When it comes to new arrivals, recent comments by the president of Olympique de Lyon, Jean-Michel Aulas, revealed the poor state of Barça’s finances when he said the Blaugrana could not afford Dutch forward Memphis Depay.
Koeman will be able to count on Trincao and Pedri, two players who joined before the pandemic devastated the club’s coffers, while unwanted Philippe Coutinho has returned from his loan spell at Bayern, after scoring twice in that 8-2 demolition last month.
Of the 11 players who started that night for Setien, 10 remain on the books.
Just 15 days before the transfer window closes, no new arrivals at Camp Nou appear to be lined up.
Last week, a group of club members gathered more than 20,000 signatures to call a censorship motion against Bartomeu and the board, while Setien has accused the club of not paying his severance after he was sacked, and Koeman has reportedly told starlet and fan favorite Rigui Puig to look for another team.
All of which adds more clarity to Messi’s famous interview with goal.com in which he explained his U-turn after announcing his desire to leave the club he has been with since he was 13-years-old.
“I wanted a winning project and to win titles with the club to continue adding to the legend of Barcelona. And the truth is that, for a while now, there has been no project or anything. They are just juggling things and covering holes as they go along,” Messi said.
Bartomeu, whose post will be up for grabs when the club holds presidential elections in March, is firmly in the crosshairs of the Barca support.
Despite their ire, he insists that he has no plans to step down. EFE-EPA