Neymar signing is the first step in Barca’s quest to break Messidependencia
While Futbol Club Barcelona may have clinched their fourth La Liga title in five seasons this term, things ended on something of a sour note as they were roundly trounced by Bayern Munich in the semi-final of the Champions League.
The Catalans were physically outmatched by a Bayern side that ultimately went on to lift the trophy after a 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium, prompting more discussion on the phenomenon that has come to be known as “Messidependencia” – Barcelona’s reliance on Lionel Messi.
Shortly after being unceremoniously dumped out of the continent’s premier club competition, Barca anounced they had finally agreed a deal to bring long-term target Neymar to Spain, signing the Brazilian on a five-year-deal from Santos. Many have seen the transfer as signifying something of a new dawn at the Camp Nou.
The arrival of Neymar not only represents Barca’s commitment to move away from “Messidependencia”, but also to adding some youth to the team. With Victor Valdes (31), Dani Alves (30), Carles Puyol (35), Xavi (33), Iniesta (29) and David Villa (31) all important cogs in the Blaugrana machine, there’s an acknowledgement that not only should long-term replacements be identified, but also that some of the aforementioned players should be replaced immediately.
Goalkeeper Valdes is reportedly set to become the latest star name to be lured in by Monaco’s tax haven and subsequently, Barca have to begin the search for an adequate replacement. There are seemingly three trains of thought in this discussion – a return for the experienced La Masia graduate Pepe Reina, currently at Liverpool, bring in a younger player who can become their goalkeeper for the foreseeable future, or the seemingly unlikely avenue of both.
Catalan media reports seem to suggest that the Barcelona hierarchy want to bring back Reina to be the instant starter, while also signing Borussia Monchengladbach’s Marc-Andre Ter Stegen to be the backup, before eventually taking over the number one spot. Ter Stegen is not seen as an immediate candidate, not least because Barca reputedly have concerns over the German stopper’s inability to speak fluent Spanish.
Meanwhile, there are continued concerns over the position of centre-back, with Carles Puyol’s injuries limiting him to sporadic first team appearances in recent seasons. Javier Mascherano has adapted his game to become a proficient central defender, however the inexperience of Marc Bartra has again raised the possibility of defensive reinforcements being drafted in.
PSG’s Thiago Silva and Mats Hummels of Borussia Dortmund are the two main targets, but their respective clubs are reluctant to let them leave. Alternatively, Barca could target Roma starlet Marquinhos, who has impressed in Serie A this season. At just 19-years-old, the Brazilian possesses great potential but after just one year in Europe, it may be somewhat foolish to expect him to solidify Barcelona’s defence immediately.
The policy of “making the squad younger” is one that is intended to make Barcelona the premier force in European football once again, but the short-term ramifications could prevent the club from instant glory – both domestically and in European competition. With the wild inconsistency often associated with young players while they develop, a period of indifference may be on the horizon as new signings adjust – something which would put Barcelona’s long-term commitment to coach Tito Vilanova to the test.
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