By. Mihir Kore
FC Barcelona, one of the biggest clubs in football history are in the midst of a major crisis, in terms of their finances as well as their management and performances week in and week out.
This began when former President Josep Bartomeu took over the club in 2014. In his first year as president, he signed Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic to add to more attacking dominance to Neymar and Lionel Messi as well as appointing Luis Enrique as the manager. In that season FC Barcelona won the European treble ( La Liga, Copa Del Rey and Champions League). Their success undermined the work Bartomeu was doing behind the scenes at the club. In the 2017-18 season, the club let go of one of their star players, Neymar Jr. for a total fee of 489 million euros, who was then replaced with Ousmane Dembélé from Borrusia Dortmund for a fee of 13.5 million euros. The following season they signed Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool FC for a fee of 120 million euros and an additional 40 million in the 2018 transfer window. The season after they signed Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid for a fee of 120 million euros.
Start of the decline:
Despite the accumulation of these top players, FC Barcelona did not perform well in the Champions League. They lost to Roma FC in the 2017-18 season after beating them 4-1 in the first leg of the quarter-finals of the Champions League but losing 3-0 away, in the most embarrassing fashion. The following year the story repeated, and they blew a 3-0 lead to Liverpool as they won at home but lost away 4-0 again repeating the catastrophe of the season prior. The year after they lost to FC Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals 8-2 and went trophyless in for the first time in 12 years. They had changed 3 managers in 3 years before appointing Ronal Koeman in the 2020-21 season, where they lost to Paris Saint Germain 5-2 in aggregate score in the Champions League Round of 16. The club had declared they were in debt of 1.2 billion euros due to their financial mismanagement and let go of Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic to control wages, Luis Suarez won the league with Atletico Madrid in the following year.
This past year they appointed former President, Juan Laporta who is still the president and is showing signs of improvement within the club. However, due to their financial mismanagement, they had to let go of their best players in recent times and arguably their best ever player, Lionel Messi, as they could not afford his wage due to financial fair play. Bidding goodbye to the club’s most successful player, who was reunited with his former teammate Neymar Jr, at Paris Saint Germain at the start of this year. Currently, FC Barcelona is in ninth place in the Spanish league, losing to Atletico Madrid last weekend and losing 2-0 to Benfica in the Champions League group stage leaving them in last with zero points and zero goals.
As it stands FC Barcelona are not a top club competing for European glory but being the giants that they are, it only makes sense that they will eventually bounce back and could potentially be back to their best, even if it is without Lionel Messi.