One of the household names associated with football, even among people with limited access to any sport whatsoever – FC Barcelona. Although their heritage is built upon 21 La Liga titles, 26 Copa del Rey titles and 3 outstanding UEFA Champions League trophies, Barca’s failures in the transfer market have been making headlines for quite a long time.
And the latest of those headlines – Arthur Melo being sold out to Juventus and acquiring from them, Miralem Pjanic. Let’s try and find some sense in it.
Imagine, Miralem Pjanic becomes exactly the player the Blaugrana needs right now. They win the league, the Champions League, and Pjanic spearheads their entire midfield to glory. Simultaneously, Arthur isn’t handy at Juventus; he hardly plays. Suddenly, imagine, the Pjanic deal looking like the bargain of the year. Imagine all these.
It’s still a defeat for Barca. It’s yet another sign of system malfunction. It’s not even about Arthur or Pjanic. It’s about what FC Barcelona is.
Arthur Melo orchestrated the Barca midfield too many dominating wins (e.g. the 4-2 win away to Tottenham in UCL 2018/19 group stages) but witnessing from the disappointing Sevilla game last week, it’s true he was going backward. All the ‘New Xavi’ hype was starting to fade. But is that why he’s been pushed to the door?
Finances and more specifically, FFP. Simply put, 12 million euros is the amount in the transaction. Just because Arthur is worth 72 million euros is Pjanic worth 60 and vice versa. The price was set as high as possible so that both clubs could post a profit at the end of the fiscal year i.e. at the end of June 2020. But it’s pretty evident what a short-term solution that is for specifically FC Barcelona.
How did they get to that point? How are their transfer policies as broken as possible? Let’s rewind a bit.
Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, and Marc-Andre ter Stegen were bought by Andoni Zubizarreta, the former sporting director at the club before he was axed. Next season, Barcelona wins the treble. But was it a long run boost?
Since then, they’ve acquired 28 players among whom half aren’t even at the club anymore. It’s still too early to judge De Jong or even Griezmann, who’s looked absolutely clueless so far. As Dembele is finishing this third season at Barca, he’s barely had an uninterrupted run of games. There’s been an unfair share of the misfortune involved and some of the signings were meant to be short-term solutions. But signings accumulating more than a billion euros and absolutely zero long-term success? The massive ‘profit’ from the Neymar sale was spent immediately to rebuild and subsequently heading into a downward spiral. And now, they want him back but don’t have the money to spend. *claps*
Barca counted on Neymar to be the one to spearhead Barcelona’s future, alongside Messi and taking over gradually. But he left and they couldn’t do anything about it. When they realized other plans weren’t working and were desperate to buy him back, finances failed to be there for Barca. Because most of the money had been spent on the ‘New Iniesta’, Philippe Coutinho. The midfielder who Barca suddenly wanted to get rid of and did so, pretty quickly.
Fast forward, Arthur, is Juventus’. Even Xavi claimed Arthur had “Barcelona DNA”. Arthur was an indication of Barca finally revisiting their identity and essence. But oh well.
This is a failure even if Arthur flops and Pjanic excels. Simple as that. They’ve let go of a strategic signing, whose arrival actually made sense unlike most of Barca’s recent transfers.
As Johan Cruyff put it, “The money should be on the pitch, not in the bank.” Some will say, Arthur wasn’t Xavi, which is true. But even Xavi wasn’t Xavi until he was 28. Arthur is just 23 and was supposed to be at FC Barcelona for long. But in the very week, Lionel Messi turns 33, Arthur Melo, poof! Just reduced to a number on the spreadsheet.