BarcelonaIt ends in 2021. In key Barça, a year full of news. 12 months with a paradigm shift in the market, but not a generation of leaders. 365 days with reliefs on the benches, illustrious returns and a very traumatic march, that of Leo Messi. All this in a context of economic crisis and indebtedness, confrontation with the football authorities and not much stability. Not even the undisputed Barça women’s triplet had a sweet hangover.
Without Messi, but with Xavi
Under the orders of Xavi Hernández, who arrived in Qatar in November to replace the sacked Ronald Koeman, Barça’s first team finished seventh in the league standings in 2021 and eliminated from the Champions League after falling in the group stage against Bayern Munich and Benfica. Despite the renewed air emanating from the Barça team since the arrival of the Egarenc coach, the results have not been accompanied by the casualties and the poor performance of a staff weakened by the salary cap. The famous financial fair play was the reason for Leo Messi’s reluctant farewell, the disastrous final chapter of a soap opera of which Barcelona has not yet recovered. The sports reconstruction – an essential step to obtain sponsorships and return to the first European level – will go through Ansu Fati and Pedri González, renewed in the face of the interest of great teams, the baton of Xavi and the expertise of Mateu Alemany in the markets. For now, Dani Alves and Ferran Torres have arrived, past and future to fertilize a present damaged in part by the lack of solutions of Koeman, which the King’s Cup, the only title of 2021, did not save from a very expensive dismissal .
A hole of monstrous dimensions
The farewell of the Dutch coach comes from accounts badly damaged by the pandemic, yes, but above all from the mismanagement of the contract of the board of Josep Maria Bartomeu. Despite the departure of Messi, the obvious oversupply in terms of salary of the first football team has continued to condition all the economic analysis that has been done at the club. To avoid bankruptcy, the new leaders closed a 600 million loan in July with Goldman Sachs, which will also be the main financier of Espai Barça. The money of the American bank oxygenates the day to day, but does not fix the hole of the professional salaries, excavated to blow of exorbitant fixed and variable of theater. As an example, the emoluments of Coutinho and Umtiti, two devalued players with guaranteed paychecks until 2023. Aware of the depth of the problem, the dome approved in the autumn assembly a statutory change to avoid having to resign in case of closing two years with losses impossible to repay. The first exercise in red, in 2020/21, left a monstrous loss of 481 million, a figure that both the auditors of the League and the board of Bartomeu see exaggerated. The 2021/22 budget provides for a profit of five million.
The pressure of the endorsement and the alliance with Florentino
2021 has been the year of Joan Laporta’s return to the presidency of Barça. An effective and studied campaign, well seasoned with the promise of renewing Leo Messi, catapulted the Barcelona lawyer to an undisputed victory at the polls over Víctor Font and Toni Freixa. The first months of his term have been marked by pressure from supporters who made him president on the horn. Among them, the current economic vice president, Eduard Romeu, key in the financing of Goldman Sachs and one of the most realistic voices in the board. Romeu replaced Jaume Giró, who fell from the top before taking office as Minister of Economy. During this initial part of the journey, Laporta agreed to a friendly end to the litigation with Neymar and has gone hand in hand with Florentino Pérez against UEFA and the League, partly because the president of Real Madrid helped him fight against the rules of the endorsements. With the new Sports Law already approved, the alliance with the eternal rival could be torn apart if Barça accept the financial agreement, provided by Javier Tebas, to irrigate their accounts with CVC money. On the other hand, Barça has become a club that will ensure “the protection and promotion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
Triplet and beginning of an era
Undoubtedly, Barça’s great joy in 2021 is written in women’s. The end of the 2020/21 season led to the coronation of Barça’s first football team as European champions, as well as winning the League and the Queen’s Cup. A triplet in capital letters. Group and individual milestones have been outstanding. The Ballon d’Or that has crowned Alexia Putellas as the best player in the world or the beginning of a new era in which the Catalan team is the leader in women’s football are two events that have marked a year in which the Catalans have broken glass ceiling that stopped them from fighting for a professionalism that has not just arrived. Last year, which ended abruptly with the departure of Lluís Cortés on the bench, he gave way to a new Catalan cycle with Jonatan Giráldez as captain of the ship. The footballers are almost the same, as is the goal: to reissue the full title.
The triumphs of ‘More than a club’
The Barça colors have also been present in many other titles that have raised the sections of the entity. Saras Jasikevicius’ Barça has been an excellent model of commitment and tenacity within a club that is not going through its best moment. The arrival of the coach Lithuanian in place of Svetislav Pesic has revived a team that has also had its own name Pau Gasol. The Sant Boi de Llobregat center-back has once again worn the Barça colors one last season before leaving the courts with tears in his eyes for good. The change of leader on the bench has also taken place in handball, despite the Champions League in Hamburg, and futsal. It is the bet of the new directive to shake and give a blow to the Catalan sections.