MADRID (AP) — With or without Lionel Messi, Barcelona will look different next season.
Club president Joan Laporta himself admits changes are coming.
“It’s the end of a cycle. We are entering a process of renovation,” Laporta said at an event late Tuesday.
Barcelona has one Spanish league match left this season but it’s not in contention for the title anymore in what will be a disappointing ending to another complicated season for the Catalan club.
“We won the Copa del Rey title, and we are proud of that, but we were eliminated very early in the Champions League and we lost the league in an incomprehensible manner,” Laporta said. “So it’s time to analyze the results, our game, and also our attitude, mentality and ambition.”
Barcelona may finish as low as fourth in the Spanish league, a competition it was challenging for only a few weeks ago before squandering several opportunities to take the lead. In the Champions League, the team couldn’t get past Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16, extending its European title drought to six years.
“We’ve been working for some time to find the elements that we’ll need to build a very competitive team and win the relevant titles,” Laporta said. “And starting next week we will start explaining what we will be doing.”
Laporta has some big challenges ahead, including convincing Messi to stay after he asked to leave at the end of last season. The Argentine’s contract ends this season and there is still no word on whether he will continue with the club. Laporta based his presidential campaign on his ability to convince Messi to stay.
Laporta also will have to put the club back on track financially after it was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Spanish media reports said Laporta recently was able to land a deal of several hundred million dollars with Goldman Sachs that will help the club restructure its finances.
The squad changes may start at the top with coach Ronald Koeman, who was criticized for not taking advantage of the team’s chances near the end of the season. There have been widespread talks about former player Xavi Hernández taking over his job for next season.
There are also rumors about the possible arrival of Memphis Depay to boost the team’s attack, while Spanish media has speculated that Antoine Griezmann could leave after another lackluster season for the France forward. Some reports say he could be involved in a trade with Atlético Madrid for young Portugal star João Félix.
Among the team’s more veteran players still in the squad are Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto and Sergio Busquets. Younger players who have been doing well include Ansu Fati, Pedri González, Sergiño Dest and Ousmane Dembélé.
Laporta said the club’s women’s team should be seen an example after winning its first Champions League title on Sunday with a 4-0 victory over Chelsea.
“Today it’s women’s soccer that represents the pride of all of our fans,” Laporta said. “In men’s soccer we will need to go through a renovation process because a cycle has ended.”
Source: AP News