These are the factors that will influence whether or not Barça have success this season
On May 18, Barcelona president Joan Laporta announced a "new era" was beginning at the club. He promised he would build a competitive team but warned that a rebuild was necessary.
No one would have imagined that meant Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann leaving, while others like Samuel Umtiti and Miralem Pjanic stayed, but that's what happened as a new chapter begins at Camp Nou.
The transfer window closed with the signings of Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia, Agüero, Luuk de Jong and Yusuf Demir and the departures of Messi, Griezmann, Trincao, Matheus, Miranda, Rey Manaj, Carles Aleñá, Todibo, Junior and Emerson.
Now Barca must accept the new reality and look to the future. They have reduced the wage bill and, with the exit of Messi, are hopefully over the worst of it.
Time will tell whether they remain competitive, but here are the five keys of the new Barça:
The first weeks without Messi have served to show that Barça still have leaders. The captains have stepped up to help the club and dropped their salaries -- Pique, Busquets and Alba. The team is in good hands as well with Ter Stegen and Frenkie de Jong, who have shown they can lead on the pitch. However, other players need to take on a bigger role now as well. Memphis Depay has started brilliantly, Pedri's emergence has been a plus.... but the team needs a new reference point. Someone with character capable of stepping forward in adverse situations.
The new ‘10’
Ansu Fati has replaced Messi as No.10. The jewell of La Masia is close to return to action after almost a year out. There's a lot of hope surrounding him. However, too much pressure should not be put on young shoulders. He's had a serious knee injury and a lot of operations in the last nine months. But he does have everything in his favour to become Barça's new star. He's been prepared to accept the challenge of taking Messi's No.10, too. There's no rush, but he is mature. He's 18 and has his whole career ahead of him.
Unknowns: Coutinho, Dembele and Agüero
They could be three blessings... or three problems. They all have undoubted talent and are capable of making the difference, even if Aguero is now 33. However, injuries have hampered them all recently and Barça don't know what to expect from them this season. If they all deliver, Ronald Koeman's side could be very good. If they don't, it could be a problem. Coutinho is back in training and was fit enough to make the bench against Getafe. Aguero and Dembele are both expected back in November.
La Masia always responds
Always. When things go well and, especially, when they don't. This season, Barça must show faith in the kids. There's no other option. Whether that means the youngsters already involved -- Araujo, Mingueza, Riqui Puig and Ansu Fati -- or those coming through now. Gavi and Nico are just starting to appear. And they have played well. If the club can't compete for the big trophies this season, they must work on laying the foundations for the future.
Results and philosophy
Barcelona can never prioritise results over the unconditional bet on the style of play that has ruled at Camp Nou in the club's most glorious moments. The 4-3-3, pressure after losing the ball, moving the ball quickly, generating numbers, La Masia... Koeman has to work on these things. He has to insist on it, without exception. Without Messi, Barça have to be more a collective than ever before. They have to be more of a team than ever.
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