If the previous season was the dark end of a dominating era for Barcelona, the transfer window saw things turning into nightmares at the Catalan capital. The defending Spanish Champions had a season to forget after they succumbed to rivals Real Madrid in the league race and also crashed out of the last eight of the Champions League against Juventus where they failed to score in either of any legs. The only silverware added into the Camp Nou gallery was the Copa del Rey title. The Catalan outfit entered into the transfer market with new manager Ernesto Valverde, who replaced the outgoing Luis Enrique with some hope to pocket some world-class players to script the revival of the glory days at Barcelona. But not many could have guessed that the Catalan giants would have a poor outing at the transfer window also.
Wanted Verratti, ended up losing Neymar
Even before the transfer window opened it was rated very highly that the Italian playmaker would make a move to the Camp Nou, but with PSG reluctant to sell the multiple bids for the 24-year old ended up in nothing but disappointment for the Catalans. Even though Barcelona made a what could have been a world record bid at that time, the Parisians were unhappy with the way the player was approached. Rumors were there that PSG blocked the move of Verratti considered by many as the ideal replacement for Xavi, as the legend himself considered. The PSG saga was not over yet as rumors of PSG ready to break the banks to trigger the release clause of Brazilian superstar Neymar surrounded the market. Firstly considered as a mere rumor it gained pace and which eventually saw the Brazilian himself willing to move out of the shadows of Messi. After the transfer saga smashing headlines for Financial Fair Play Regulations and how things could pan out, the irreplaceable Neymar finally made his way out of the Camp to the Parc des Princes for a world record £199 million transfer.
After multiple rejections, come some joy
After Neymar managed to make his way out breaking the famous MSN trio, Barcelona found themselves in a die hard need of an attacking reinforcement, with Dortmund youngster Dembele leading the race to replace the Brazilian. The man though arrived at Barcelona before the end of transfer window cost the Catalans a whopping £94 million, but Barcelona had multiple offers rejected for the Frenchman before he became the biggest Barcelona signing in terms of transfer value. Similar was the case with Brazilian midfielder Paulinho who made a £36 million move from Guangzhou Evergrande. Guangzhou too had initially rejected a move before finally succumbing to big money shed out by the Catalans. Though the ambidextrous Dembele was happily received by the fans, the Brazilian midfielder Paulinho was not well received with his shirt sales being a massive failure. Fans raised questions over the signing of the man dubbed as Tottenham’s worst ever signing being brought in.
Gone are the days of midfield domination
The Guardiola system where the Tiki-Taka saw Barcelona dominating the midfield faded drastically in the Enrique tenure. The new manager was supposed to tackle the issue but he too has failed to bring something worthy to the midfield. This transfer window saw them wildly chasing Liverpool’s Coutinho with many bids but only for each of them being rejected by Jurgen Klopp who repeatedly insisted that his star man was not up for sale on any account. Even though rumors like player agreeing on mutual terms and handing in the transfer request, Liverpool have successfully warded off any bid for Coutinho as of now. Barcelona was surrounded with rumors linking them to players like Di Maria, Jean Seri, Julian Draxler, Mesut Ozil, Paulo Dybala and Verratti, but none of them could make their way into the Camp Nou, leaving Paulinho as the only major addition to the midfield. As far as the defense is concerned, Barcelona was initially linked with Bellerin but eventually ended up with Nelson Semedo from Benfica, who is considered as the rightful heir to Dani Alves. Also, Barcelona exercised the buy back clause of Academy product Gerard Deulofeu from Everton as an attacking enforcement.
The following is the complete list of transfer activity at FC Barcelona
Profit off the field but loss inside the arena
This is one of those odd transfer windows where you see a club like Barcelona spending less than what they have earned in the transfer activity. The Catalans are yet to find a proper midfielder to rejuvenate the midfield, the area that cost them the last season. Even though Paulinho performed well in the national colors and adds strength to the midfield, he may be a mixed bet rather than a big signing. What Barcelona needed was a star midfielder which they have failed to secure in with Iniesta aging and Busquets and Rakitic finding form occasionally, they further lag behind in the middle of the ground. The quality of the bench is not a great one as the 5 midfielder formula heavily backfired in the Spanish Super Cup which saw Kroos, Modric, and Casemiro decimating the Catalans. As far as defense is concerned the only big signing Semedo would surely be a good addition, but they could have bought in a quality Centre-Back to give some competition to existing pair of Pique and Umtiti. The return of experienced Vermaelen is more or less not that vital as he is more likely to warm the bench like Mathieu who went on a free transfer to Sporting did last season. As far as Dembele is concerned, it would be too early to compare him with Neymar but it would require some mettle to match the Brazilian.
The Synopsis: #BartomeuOut
If a single word that could have described the Barcelona transfers, it would be Barotomeu Out. The outrage of the fans reached out to the club President Bartomeu who has been widely criticised for poor management and lack of focus on academy talents with many leaving the club on loans or on permanent deals like Sergi Samper who was loaned out yet once again. The fans have joined hand demanding the club President to resign, with #BartomeuOut trending on Social Media platforms. In a nutshell, if we consider this transfer window, Barcelona have lost more than what they gained and further drift apart from arch rivals Real Madrid who are once again favorites to dominate Spain and Europe to continue their era of dominance. If rated out of 10, the transfer business of Barcelona would get a mere 4.5 widely due to loss of Neymar and lack of reinforcement. Overall Barcelona goes into the season without any notable additions and would require nothing less than a Messi Magic if they are to win something substantial this season.