In two weeks (March 7), Barcelona will have a new president, who will take on the role with the risk of having already been knocked out of the Copa del Rey (March 3) and being eliminated from the Champions League three days later (March 10). An incoming president has never faced such a tough start, with a number of key decisions for the club's future also necessary. There's no room for error.
This season's results, alongside those that have left Barça without success in Europe over the last five years, mean a rethink is needed about the current Barça squad. What happened against Paris Saint-Germain and Cadiz denoted a lack of competitiveness and a worrying lack of ambition that is screaming out for change.
SPORT revealed last week that coach Ronald Koeman wants to lead the second revolution, to complete the deep clean that started last summer. We will see if he gets that chance or if he will be given the boot as a consequence of bad results. In normal times, Koeman would be the first on the chopping block for any president. But Barça are in such a unique situation, problems so deep-rooted, that it's the players that are in the firing line. In any case, the new president who has to take charge of the much-needed structural changes.
There are some players that have their futures guaranteed, mainly the younger ones, those that we're just getting to know and could form the spine of the team in the future. That's the case with Pedri, Araujo and Trincao, or others more consolidated like De Jong, Ter Stegen and Ansu Fati, who will take on a big role when he's fit again.
Although it's true that there are two dangers with Ansu: The presence of Jorge Mendes as his agent and his high market value, coming from the academy, that could bring in 150 million euros for the club without any losses. It's chip that could be played by the new president if the financial crisis can't be fixed and to help restructure the squad. At some stage, sacrifices may be needed.
That's the detail which will condition many of the measures applied by the new president. For example, Griezmann cost 120 million euros and signed a five-year deal. That's a cost of 26 million euros per season. With three years left on his contract, any sale for less than 78 million euros would generate a loss. And with that example, there's another group of players who are expendable, who no one considers essential and if offers arrive they will be studied. These are the players signed to add depth to the squad but the club's needs today must be met by the academy in that regard.
They are players who have done well for the club at times, such as Lenglet or Umtiti, and others who have arrived recently, like Dest, Braithwaite, Neto and Junior, or damaging cases of the club such as Coutinho, signed to replace Iniesta... but nowhere near what the former Spain international offered. The error of signing this player (Pep Segura and Valverde) in the post-Neymar era is a burden that still weighs heavy. Barça need to analyse, case by case, all of the contracts to determine which of those are worth persisting on -- not many.
The main problem, however, are the veterans, players that have given the club so much glory but now, with big salaries, don't perform to the level their wage demands. Were talking about the captains, like Busquets and Alba, but also about Griezmann or Dembele, whose professional conduct and injuries have blighted his time at the club so far. Injury-free, he's becoming an important player, though. The last two cases, Griezmann and Dembele, come with a high salary but also a high transfer fee, so it would be difficult to sell them without recording losses.
The new president has a mountain of cases to resolve ahead of next season. He will have time because the way Barça are going, everything will be over in March.
NEW FC BARCELONA PODCAST IN ENGLISH