Spain disaster should cause Barca alarm bells to ring
The embarrassing way in which Spain were heavily defeated by Netherlands in the World Cup can only be interpreted as a reminder that those who fail to evolve with the times are usually left behind. While the current world champions and Barcelona are different organisations, the Blaugrana board should take note of such an alarming result and continue to take difficult, yet crucial decisions ahead of next season.
After one of the more disappointing years in recent Barcelona history, reinforcing the squad before the end of the transfer window in late August has now become a task that can't be delayed any longer.
Despite signing promising goalkeeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen as well as the returning Rafinha and Gerard Deulofeu back from loan, the Catalan supporters are still demanding further additions to their ageing squad -- and rightly so.
Barcelona have confirmed the sale of Cesc Fabregas to Chelsea for 33 million euros. If we take into account that the 27-year-old Spain international managed to score 13 goals and give 16 assists last season, it is very difficult to justify selling the player for such a tiny amount of money. When we consider the fact that Mesut Ozil was sold to Arsenal for 50 million euros or James Rodriguez to Monaco for 45 million just 12 months ago, the amount that has reportedly been agreed with Jose Mourinho's club seems ridiculous.
Many are sad to see Fabregas leave after failing to fulfil his dream of succeeding at the Camp Nou, especially if we consider the many years spent negotiating his return. Ultimately, the player was unable to find his role within the Blaugrana formation and was unable to establish himself as a regular starter ahead of Xavi or Andres Iniesta. His ability to perform anywhere within the Catalans' attacking third ended up working against him, as did his decreasing influence in crucial matches as years went by.
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To be totally honest, Cesc never truly felt at home. Many Cules refused to forget about his voluntary departure from the club while with the U15s and, more importantly, the huge amount of money invested to bring him back. This significant section of the Blaugrana community made sure their feelings were heard around the stadium whenever Fabregas made a mistake.
I was surprised by his decision to join forces with Mourinho, considering that the pair have clashed in the past when the Portuguese was Chelsea manager as well as in charge of Real Madrid. Having said that, I'm sure the newly found best friends have already ironed their differences and are eager to work together.
The amount of cash earned by Fabregas' sale is very likely to be invested in attracting Ivan Rakitic from Sevilla. The 26-year-old Croatian playmaker was instrumental in taking Sevilla back to Europe last year and would certainly add much-needed hunger and freshness to Luis Enrique's midfield. His ability to distribute the ball across the park at high speed, excellent technique and ability to either score himself or find unmarked teammates in the final attacking third would be a great addition to Enrique's squad.
While it is encouraging to see the Barca directors finally starting to make changes, the key position to be reinforced (the central defensive spot) continues to attract very little attention. The signings of Marquinhos and Jeremy Mathieu are still being discussed, but to be honest, neither of them fully fit the required profile: young yet experienced at the highest level and able to play the ball on the floor from the back line.
Another position that must be improved is right-back. While many appreciate everything that Dani Alves has given Barca over the years, the undeniable truth is that his pace and defensive commitment are in decline. Fiorentina's Juan Guillermo Cuadrado has been targeted as a replacement, and the Colombian's energy will both rejuvenate and strengthen the Catalans' right flank.
Let's hope that technical director Andoni Zubizarreta and his team continue to work towards signing world-class players to ensure Barca can fight for every competition entered in the coming season -- I trust that Enrique would not allow it to be any other way.