For the Barcelona players and staff, there was nowhere to hide in the glare of the Estadio da Luz.
An unprecedented, unmitigated, humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Friday laid bare the serious malfunctioning of one of the world’s grandest clubs.
President Josep Maria Bartomeu has already confirmed that “announcements will be made” next week, likely beginning with the future of coach Quique Setien, but Barca’s problems run far deeper, from the boardroom to the dressing room.
“Nobody is safe,” said Gerard Pique after the match. “It is not the first time, the second time or the third time, it’s very tough. I hope it is useful for something.”
The defender needs nobody to tell him that significant changes must be made at Camp Nou and he himself offered to leave for the good of the club. Ironically, such a public admission suggests he is the kind of character Barca need to keep.
Who, then, are the people who should go if Barca are to become great again?
Josep Maria Bartomeu
The buck stops with the president. Bartomeu survived those infamous nights in Rome and Liverpool, but Lisbon must surely be the beginning of the end for a man who has presided over a wretched, expensive decline. Victor Font is presently the only rival candidate for the 2021 elections, if we get there.
Bordas is the director in charge of the football first team at Barca and, regardless of the presidency, it is only right that a new figurehead is put in place to oversee the rebuild.
Barca’s first-team technical secretary came under pressure after a public falling-out with Lionel Messi this year, and his job now looks untenable. It’s essential Barca appoint someone who can repair the damaged relations between the board and the players. Carles Puyol has been touted as a good candidate for the role, including by Messi.
As CEO, Grau is the beating heart of Barcelona’s operations and he cannot escape blame for the way the football project has been run in recent years. Speculation has seen Sevilla’s Monchi linked with the role.
The problems ran deeper than Ernesto Valverde and sacking his successor will likewise not solve everything, but watching him lean against the Luz dugout, silent and stewing, made it abundantly clear that he cannot fix this team. Mauricio Pochettino is available and, despite past reservations, he seems willing to put aside his Espanyol loyalty.
Setien’s assistant would almost certainly follow him out of the door. Sarabia looks to have struggled to get the players to buy into the boss’ demands and it would not make much sense to stay.
Barca were given special dispensation to sign Braithwaite from Leganes due to injury, while Leganes were denied the same option. They were relegated, Barca’s season ended in infamy, and Braithwaite was not even eligible to play. West Ham are apparently interested.
Coutinho came off the bench to score twice and assist another for Bayern against Barca, the Catalans having loaned out their €140million-plus man after becoming unconvinced by his form. You’d struggle to imagine a more damning visual indictment of Barca’s transfer policy.
The coronavirus pandemic has hampered spending across the continent, but any moderate fee for the Brazilian would help Barca to build for the future.
Rafinha has played eight league games in three years for Barca, spending most of that time on loan at Inter and Celta. Now 27, it’s time they cash in. Everton and Wolves have been linked.
Unfairly maligned by a section of the fanbase, Rakitic has probably reached the point where a move is in everyone’s best interests. He has declined since helping Croatia to the 2018 World Cup final and, despite insisting he will stay, a return to Sevilla would ease the burden on the Barca wage bill and help to bring down the squad’s average age.
Right-back has been a problem position since Dani Alves left in 2015, and Semedo’s performance against Bayern made it clear that he is not the long-term solution. Manchester City had been linked, although Pep Guardiola will surely have been put off by Friday’s viewing.
He’s only 20 and has played four times in LaLiga, but selling Todibo would be a simple way for Barca to raise desperately needed funds. Schalke, who signed him on loan in January, had a €25m purchase option.
Barca were terrified of losing the centre-back in the wake of Neymar’s Paris Saint-Germain move, with Umtiti’s release clause at just €60m. Since that buyout price was increased to €500m, Umtiti has been undermined by injuries, inconsistency and coaching changes at Camp Nou, but he could still command a decent fee.
One of the few players who has impressed under Setien, Vidal is 33 and should not really be part of the Barca rebuild. His contract is up next year, so now is the time to sell to earn even a small fee.
Nice chose not to activate their purchase option on the full-back, but he remains a sellable asset for Barca, who are unlikely to use him in the first team next season.