What now for a Nou Camp side under new management?
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Oh how the mighty have fallen. Just one inexplicable year ago, Barcelona were on top of the world, winning every accolade there was to win and being touted by many as one of the best club sides there ever was with so much talent oozing from their highly-envied squad.
Many pundits, coaches and fans alike wondered how anybody could stop them, yet fast forward just twelve months and after losing their title as Spain’s best to fierce rivals Real Madrid and bowing out of the Champions League semi-final to a resilient Chelsea side, Barca have been brought back to earth with a crashing thud.
They’ve lost their highly regarded manager Pep Guardiola of whom played an integral part in their success and now embark on a new season with the un-tried and un-tested young coach, Tito Vilanova.
Bad news for Barca fans is that whilst Real Madrid’s crop of talented youngsters such as Mesut Ozil and Gonzalo Higuain continue to grow and develop at an exponential rate, many of Barca’s finest are starting to approach the twilight years of their illustrious careers. Xavi Hernandez for example is now thirty-two years of age and whilst Cesc Fabregas has always been the man befitted to be his replacement, will he ever be able to match up to the player Xavi once was in his prime?
Maybe so but squad-depth especially last season was still of huge concern for Barca and it was on the bench that the La Liga title was won and lost last season. Players such as former world player of the year Kaka and highly-rated Turk Hamit Altintop warmed the bench for the majority of this season for Real Madrid, whilst in-experienced youngsters such as Isaac Cuenca and Thiago Alcantara have been called off the bench numerous times this season for Barca with lesser impact.
Being the financial powerhouse that they are, all Barcelona can do from here on out is spend, spend, spend and add some much needed squad depth to their side. David Villa’s return to action next season will certainly help matters but some experienced talent in all areas of the field is a necessity for Barca with rivals Madrid more than likely on the hunt for some big names in this summer’s transfer window.
There is no doubt they already possess the world’s best striker in Lionel Messi and also the world’s sturdiest defence in the form of Gerard Pique, Carlos Puyol and Dani Alves but what happens when players of this pedigree become out of action all of a sudden, who will be there to fill the void and step up to the Catalonian side’s very high expectations of performance?
The only solution to this problem unfortunately is strength in depth and in today’s footballing climate that takes cash and a whole load of it. There is little evidence as of yet that Barca have begun their foray into the summer transfer market but give it time. Once the dust has settled on the upcoming Euro 2012 tournament, expect much transfer activity from Tito Vilanova’s side.