Barcelona making it up as they go along in plots to sign Antoine Griezmann and Neymar

Andy West 10:53 10/07/2019
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Neymar

Do Barcelona actually know what they are doing?

When we’re talking about one of the biggest and most powerful sporting organisations in the world, with annual revenues exceeding the billion dollar mark, you would certainly like to think that those in charge at the Camp Nou are working to a clear and organised plan.

You would like to think that, but sometimes you have to wonder. And Barca’s current activities in the transfer market are certainly rather puzzling to fathom.

As things stand, it’s looking highly likely that both Antoine Griezmann and Neymar will be added to the Catalan club’s roster this summer, with both players currently in the latter stages of extricating themselves from their current employers in similarly unseemly fashions.

In one sense, it’s perfectly logical for Barca to seek the services of two of the game’s best forwards, which Griezmann and Neymar undoubtedly are.

How, though, can they be expected to play together? Neymar on the left, Griezmann in the middle and Lionel Messi on the right of a front three would appear to be the most obvious solution, and a very tantalising one too, it must be said.

Where, though, does that leave Luis Suarez? ‘On the bench’ would appear to be the answer to that question, but whether such an influential member of the dressing room, and not exactly a shy soul, will be prepared to countenance such a suggestion is another matter. Major ructions could lie just around the corner.

Another perplexing matter, of more immediate importance, is how Barca will possibly be able to afford the €300 million-plus required to secure both Neymar and Griezmann, especially at a time they are supposed to be reducing the wage bill, not adding to it by splashing the cash on a pair of players who will be past their peak before too long.

The ready-made solution there, perhaps, will be to recoup the cash and lighten the salary load by selling Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho, both of whom have failed to live up to expectations since their own big-money moves to the Camp Nou a couple of years ago.

Hang on though…not too long ago, the top brass deemed Coutinho and Dembele worthy of becoming the second and third (at the time) most expensive players in history. And now they are just to be discarded, sacrificed in favour of even more expensive imports? If foresight in recruitment is the subject matter, that doesn’t bode particularly well for Barca’s level of insight.

Added to these concerns, of course, is the fact that both Griezmann and Neymar have already publicly shunned – indeed, rather humiliated – their potential new club in the recent past…the former by turning them down last season, and the latter by leaving two years ago.

At least Barca can be credited with consistency for pursuing the same players irrespective of their past treatment of the club, but it’s unusual to say the least for such a mighty organisation to show such free forgiveness to former betrayers.

Actually, though, it’s wrong to talk of strategies dreamed up by ‘the club’ as though that entity constitutes one unified whole. More accurately, we are looking at the whims of one man, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, and his small, select group of confidantes. And even they aren’t all pulling in the same direction, as seen by the recent resignation of long-serving director Jordi Mestre and the possible departure of general manager Pep Segura.

What, then, are Bartomeu and his band of loyalists doing? Perhaps they are simply giving manager Ernesto Valverde a dazzling range of agreed options to unleash a bewildering array of attacking line-ups upon unsuspecting opponents next season; perhaps it’s all part of a plan to gradually phase out 32 year-old Messi; perhaps a global marketing strategy is at play, motivating multiple moves for glamorous and camera-friendly superstars.

Perhaps. But right now, it looks uncannily like Bartomeu is simply making things up as he goes along.

And meanwhile, the squad still only has one left-back.

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