FC Barcelona: Rising from the Ruins | Nate Neustadt
A year ago, one of the top soccer clubs in Europe, FC Barcelona, was a sinking ship trying to stay afloat. During last summer's transfer window,A the club lost Lionel Messi, their star player and arguably the greatest soccer player in the history of the sport. Constantly struggling without their star player, they lost match after match in LaLiga, failed to win trophies, and dropped to eighth place in the league. And for the first time since 2005, FC Barcelona was no longer in the Champions League. In a desperate attempt to rebuild their club, they fired their existing manager, Ronald Koeman, and hired Xavi Hernandez, an FC Barcelona legend and young manager.
When Xavi was hired as manager, FC Barcelona was in eighth. They lacked chemistry, a strategic mindset, and passion. Xavi needed to make a change within the team. A month after becoming manager, Barcelona’s new hope signed Memphis Depay, a center-forward from The Netherlands, and Eric García, a Spanish center midfielder. He also re-signed another club legend in hopes of teaching the players FC Barcelona’s trophy-winning playing style, 38-year-old Brazilian right-back Dani Alves. With two new signings and a familiar face in the club, subtle changes started to take place. During games, the players moved the ball around more, and during practices maximum effort was shown.
But slight changes weren't enough for the Spaniard. Before February he signed Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, Adama Traore, and Gavi. Hopefully, the two new forwards, Aubameyang and Traore, would add more spark and goals to the team while Gavi, a midfielder, would provide key strategic playmaking during matches.
With FC Barcelona’s new signings and a new manager, they slowly started to climb up the league’s table. Currently, they’ve made an impressive comeback and are sitting at third in the league. Along with competing in LaLiga, Barcelona is excelling in competitions again. Just yesterday they beat Galatasaray S.K., a Turkish soccer club, to advance to the quarter-finals of the Europa League tournament.
Compared to a year ago, FC Barcelona is a new club. But, there’s still a long way to go until the club sees the glory days it once had. If FC Barcelona is to be League and Tournament champions once again Xavi and his staff must focus on finding a new left-back to replace Jordi Alba and a reliable right-wing that performs every game. In my mind, Jordi Alba is not performing as well as he used to. His playstyle is sloppy and his age is showing. A good replacement for the club legend would be Kiernan Tierney. The right-back from Scotland is on fire this season at Arsenal Football Club in London, England. And for a consistent right-wing, FC Barcelona must sign Mohammed Salah. The Liverpool FC star is arguably the best forward in the Premier League right now. He is consistent in all games and is currently the highest goal scorer this season. With rumors circulating around Salah’s departure from Liverpool and his arrival to Barcelona, Xavi must seal the deal to fix the last few holes in the team.