Barcelona’s current team have been into decline long before they lost Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain. The Catalan side was well beaten by Paris Saint-Germain during the first leg of the last year’s Champions League Round of 16. Only an easy penalty given to them by the referee during the second leg and the PSG’s reckless defending helped Barca to qualify for the Round 8.
Despite going to the next stage, Barca have been virtually humiliated by the Italian Juventus who beat them 3:0 in Torino and drew 0:0 the second game at Camp Nou.
Neymar was in the Blaugrana squad when they lost to Juventus. Unlike many players, football experts and fans, the Brazilian has probably felt that the current Barca team is already exhausted. Neymar has probably thought that it was a good idea to join another team that needs a leader on the pitch and was ready to make history with another club.
Neymar left Barcelona for a big money, a new promising project and made more or less the same that Luis Suarez did in 2014. The Uruguayan wanted to win trophies, joined a Barca and helped them to win La Liga and the Champions League. Without Suarez Barca might have entered a new low in the club’s history a bit earlier. In 2014 it was Liverpool that has been hurt when a player of Suarez calibre left. Now the Neymar’s departure hurt Barca.
What Barcelona FC would change for good?
Neymar’s move to Paris showed that the Catalan team isn’t an ultimate dream destination, anymore. Barca are losing their status of a magical team, one where players go to win trophies and experience glory. With the rise of PSG, the ongoing investments in Milan and Inter, as well as with the new Premier League’s TV deal, Barcelona and other Spanish teams will be under heavy pressure when it comes to revenue and Champions League success.
The recent £120 million (€130m) Ousmane Dembele’s transfer does not bring a solution to Barcelona’s problems. Neither a Coutinho signing would do that. Splashing a huge amount of money to sign a 21-year-old player, who has had just one good season behind him is a gamble. The young French striker could not resolve Barca’s issues on the left flank the same way as Anthony Martial wasn’t able to resolve the problems Man United had under Louis Van Gaal. Anthony Martial’s transfer did help United to win trophies at the time. Likewise, Dembele wouldn’t probably help Barca to win La Liga or the Champions League.
The Catalans would better change something in the way they play, rather than trying to fill any gaps left by players who departed the club. One possible solution is to reshape their playing formation and to change the way they play. The new manager Ernesto Valverde would change Barca’s formation and transform it to 3-5-2, to 4-4-2 or to adopt any other tactical scheme, which would make Barca to play with 2 strikers.
The Catalans have been playing with 3 strikers in different periods of the their history and have been very successful using a 4-3-3 formation or any similar one with 3 strikers. The Neymar’s departure and the introductions of a new manager the right time for Barca to adopt a new tactical scheme. This might be a good solution for the Catalans who would have a difficult La Liga and Champions League campaigns in season 2017/2018. As of now the solution depends on Ernesto Valverde’s judgement and his ability to manage the Barcelona’s game, not on the money the football club would spend on new players.