Barça have sold some of their oldest players and turned to a younger generation
Barcelona have reduced the average age of their squad by a year. When the summer transfer window closed in 2019, Ernesto Valverde's side had an average age of 26.52 years. A year on, the squad Ronald Koeman will have for the current campaign has an average age of 25.50.
This summer, Barça shifted three of the veterans of the squad. Luis Suarez, the oldest player in the squad, joined Atletico Madrid for €6 million in variables. Arturo Vidal joined Inter Milan for €1m in variables. Finally, Ivan Rakitic returned to Sevilla for €1.5m plus €9m in add-ons. Suarez and Vidal are both 33, Rakitic is 32.
The 1987 GENERATION
That means Gerard Pique is now the oldes player in the squad. The Catalan centre-back, from the 1987 generation, is 33 and will turn 34 in February. Messi is second in the ranking. He will turn 34 next June. Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Neto complete the top five for oldest players at the club. Busquets is 32. Alba is 31 and not 32 until March, while Neto will turn 32 next July.
In contrast, Barça have brought in a number of young players. Ansu Fati (17), Riqui Puig (21) and Ronald Araujo (21) are now all officially registered with the first team, while Pedri (17) Sergiño Dest (19) and Francisco Trincao (20) have been signed.
Ansu and Pedri look set to feature in Koeman's plans, as do Dest and Trincao. They've all, save Dest, who's only just signed, had minutes in the first three games. Riqui Puig is waiting for his first chance and Araujo showed against Sevilla, when Clement Lenglet was suspended, that he can be an important player this season.
The passage of time is removing the pillars of a Barcelona side that has marked an era since 2008 until the current day. During those 12 years, the Blaugrana have been a reference point for the football world, winning eight leagues, three Champions Leagues, six Copas del Rey, three European Super Cups, three Club World Cups and six Spanish Super Cups.
Those still remaining are: Piqué, Messi, Busquets and Jordi Alba, but others, for different reasons have now left: Xavi, Iniesta, Valdés, Puyol, Neymar, Dani Alves, Villa, Suárez, Rakitic, Henry, Belletti...
If FC Barcelona, in the coming seasons, can build a team around the young talent in the current squad, with players who can slot straight into the side and others coming out of La Masia, success should continue. But to achieve it, it will be key to have patience and give continuity to the players in the squad this season.