Barcelona qualified for the quarter-finals of the King’s Cup after winning 5-0 at the third-division stadium, Ceuta, on Thursday evening, and will face Real Sociedad on Wednesday. Xavi’s side were rarely threatened and there was no turning back once Rafinha opened the scoring shortly before half-time. Robert Lewandowski netted twice, Ansu Fati produced a sharp solo effort, and Frank Kessie was also on the goals list.
Here are some answers to some of your points about the match – and some answers on a broader scale as well.
What do you think is the club’s biggest threat to their future success on the pitch? Kevin M
themselves. Barcelona’s finances remain complex and they cannot make more mistakes in future transfer windows. Apart from that, I think one of the club’s biggest concerns has to be providing a platform for young players like Pedri and Gavi to shine. Victories like the Supercopa de Espana’s victory over Real Madrid, which they won 3-1, are not only important because of the trophies, but also to show their younger talents won’t need to leave in the future to reach their full potential.
If he does not secure a transfer in January, do you see Ivan Fresenda as the signing that Barcelona should consider, given that the right-back is the supposed weak point in the starting line-up, in addition to his age, potential and price? Meiji S
That’s a good shout, but Barcelona aren’t even in Real Valladolid’s right-back squad. The club are not considering signing the kind of figures reported in connection with a potential Fresneda move – and the player’s camp, as far as we know, appears more interested in a move away from Spain. There is interest from the Premier League, with potential clubs offering a large transfer fee and allowing Fresenda to remain on loan at Valladolid for the rest of the season. Barcelona don’t have a lot of resources for signings, and if they spend big they want to do it in a way that helps the team in the short term.
What is your financial outlook for Barcelona as the summer season approaches? What needs to be achieved on/off the field for Barcelona to make big moves in the summer transfer window? Brian L
I don’t think even Barcelona know what their finances will look like next summer. The club is waiting to see how Xavi’s team perform in the Europa League and how they can make up for the lack of income resulting from their early exit from the Champions League. They will only make up for what they lost by not reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League by reaching the Europa League final. If they don’t, it will have an impact on their budget as well as the salary cap set by La Liga – and their ability to spend in the summer. Barcelona are also working to bring in new income through sponsorship contracts and commercial agreements, which is the other way they can improve their room to maneuver in future transfer windows.
We’ve seen Xavi use Pedri and Gavi in similar roles in different games. What do you think their performances at the World Cup finals (making Spain with eight stars, not two wingers – as Xavi prefers) have had an impact on Xavi, who is trying to make the most of his two stars? Santiago N
I’m sure Xavi took notes from Spain and probably reached out to Luis Enrique to see what new things could improve the midfielders’ performance. I also think that both Gavi and Pedri have proven that they are smart enough to read both the game and the roles they are being asked to take on for the benefit of the team. Xavi has done something different compared to Luis Enrique in using Gavi and Pedri as false wingers, pushing them up the field and exploring new dimensions where they can make a difference. Supercopa and Barca’s performance against Ceuta in the Copa del Rey are good examples of this.
As much as Xavi preferred playing with wide players early in his coaching career at Barcelona, I think he’s seen more recently how he can make the team shine with Javi and Badri in more advanced roles. At the moment, I don’t think Xavi’s preferred starting line-up includes two wingers. If it’s a Europa League play-off against Manchester United tomorrow, I think Jaffe will be used as a false winger.
What is the future of Frenkie de Jong? Is he considered a long-term replacement for Sergio Busquets in the number six, or will Barcelona be looking to move him again this summer due to his large salary? In the latter scenario, would De Jong refuse to leave again? Samarth b
The Supercopa win against Real Madrid could be a turning point for De Jong. Against Real Madrid, we saw what his ideal role would be for Barcelona: playing alongside three other midfielders, keeping Busquets balanced in the defensive midfield while Pedri and Javi worked out which spaces they could fill. In this role, De Jong has the freedom to do what he does best: roam around midfield and carry the ball up the pitch.
I think this will be the system of going to Xavi in the big games from now on – but everything will change when Busquets leaves. Barcelona see a future with De Jong serving as a midfielder, but he can’t be the only player Barcelona has in this position. Xavi would like to have a more positioned player in this role; The person who would be more useful at times from square to square De Jong.
Club sources, who preferred to remain anonymous to protect their position, admitted that they could not force De Jong out of the club, as seemed to be her intention last summer. The feeling is that Barcelona have stopped complaining about De Jong’s contract and are starting to figure out how to get the most out of their elite assets.
Is it likely that Barcelona will join the academy this summer to fill in some gaps in the squad? If so, who are the top talents to keep an eye on? If not, do you think there will be a coherent strategy behind any outsourcing or will it continue to be – as it seems – driven by whatever could look good on the books (eg the 2020 Miralem Pjanic/Arthur Melo swap deal)? Matt G
Yes, they could potentially use the Academy. Or at least that’s what the club’s sources, who prefer to remain anonymous to protect their position, insist that belief in La Masia, Barcelona’s famous youth system, will be central to the coming windows. This is partly because it is what the club needs from a financial perspective. Chairman Joan Laporta knows they won’t be able to afford many of the big names in the summer, and their recent experience with the likes of Alejandro Balde and Javi shows what the academy can offer.
Names to watch? In the short term, I would say attacking midfielder Pablo Toure – although not an academy player, he did sign last season from Racing Santander – as his age and skillset make him a more exciting prospect on the verge of breaking into the first team. . The other is the heart of defense, Shadi Riyad.
Last night, in the Copa del Rey match in Ceuta, Xavi gave 18-year-old Angel Alarcón his debut. He’s another exciting talent and the club are working to extend his contract, which may have played a part in his first-team appearances this week.
If you want to go deeper, I recommend you watch Ilyas Akhmash and Lamin Yamal, two really bright wings. Yamal is 15 years old (!) but he has already trained with the first team. Barcelona made securing his future at the club a top priority. Those who follow the academy insist there is no talent like him at the club at the moment. He’s playing academy football against players three years older than him on a weekly basis – and he’s thriving.
I’d also say it’s worth keeping an eye on Nico Gonzalez, who’s on loan at Valencia. He’s injured at the moment, but Nico has Barcelona’s DNA in his veins. If Busquets leaves, he could be a good replacement.
While Barcelona don’t know the exact financial margins they’ll have to operate in – this will partly depend on the TV income they bring in from the Europa League and how they approach La Liga’s salary rules – the club is keeping an eye on it. Transfer targets whose contracts expire or will expire soon. They have proven they are ready for deals like this last summer with the signings of Andreas Christensen and Frank Casey.
Club sources, who preferred to remain anonymous to protect their position, said Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan could be an option on a free transfer, although nothing has been agreed yet. The sale of Memphis Depay to Atletico Madrid, announced on Friday, included an option to buy Yannick Carrasco, whose deal expires in 2024.
Barcelona will try to make the most of their situation. It’s another thing if they can actually make it happen.
Do you think Barcelona have the potential to win this thing? It’s going to be the only meaningful Silver Cup for us this season… Pete B
I don’t know if by “this thing” you mean the King’s Cup, but, of course, I think they have a chance of winning the competition. The draw was not easy for Barcelona or Madrid – they will face Real Sociedad on Wednesday, while Real Madrid will face Atletico Madrid on Thursday.
However, the most coveted title for Barcelona this season is La Liga. This is what Laporta and Xavi admitted publicly. Winning the Spanish League means that the team has been consistent throughout 38 matches, and this is what the Barcelona project needs now. The fan base needs assurances that they can trust this team to deliver a long streak of results, and that will help give this young generation the winning mentality they need – more than great one-off games, like last week’s Supercopa final.
Barcelona need to show they can be counted on – and nothing proves that more than winning La Liga.
(Top photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP via Getty Images)
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