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Is There a NEW LOOK Barcelona Coming?

5 minute read Published June 5, 2024

In the end, Barcelona got second place in La Liga. It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. The surprise of the season, Girona put up one heck of a fight. They got a Champions League spot next season, although that spot wasn’t really at risk at all. For a team like Barcelona, though, second best is not good enough. Just getting Champions League isn’t good enough.

The pressure on Xavi was very high throughout the season. So high, in fact, that he decided not to continue his managerial career at the club. The club is in a tough period. They’re still getting that second spot in the league, but struggling to keep up with Real Madrid at the moment. 

Defensive mistakes were rampant in the beginning of the year. Marc Andre Ter Stegen was out with an injury but even his return didn’t help. In the first eleven games of 2024, Barcelona let in more goals than any other team in the top five leagues.

Additionally, Xavi was criticised for his in-game management. In the 4-1 defeat in the Supercopa against Real Madrid, for example, the Barca legend chose to play with a very high back line. The setup was perfect for the speedy wingers in Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo.

Financial Troubles and the new Nike Deal

It hasn’t been missed on anyone that Barcelona have been in financial trouble in the past few years. They’ve been selling off assets, or pulling levers, as they called it, to make up for the deficits and to be able to make transfers. 

Those troubles seem to be given at least some relief. The club is just about to sign a new deal with Nike, worth up to €130 million, the largest contract ever, of its kind. The deal also, reportedly, includes a sign on bonus of more than €100 million. A very welcome addition to the highly strained finances. 

Because of this, the club is operating under financial restrictions from La Liga. Usually, a club is allowed to spend all the money they make, called the 1:1 rule. At the moment, Barca are restricted to spending 25%, a 1:4 restriction. By ending this season in profit, partly because of the new Nike deal, they’re hoping to get back to 1:1 soon.

Hansi Flick Coming In

After Xavi announced that he’d step down as the coach of Barca earlier this year, there’s been a lot of speculation as to who could replace him. For a while, it even looked likely that he’d revise his decision and stay on. Last week, however, former Bayern Munich and German national team coach Hansi Flick was announced.

Hansi Flick. Photo: Mikolaj Barbanell, Shutterstock.

At 59 years old, the German had an impressive tenure as head coach at Bayern Munich. His time there was crowned by winning the sextuple. That’s right. Six trophies in a year. The League, Champions League, DFB-Pokal, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup and DFL Supercup. A feat only one other manager has achieved before – Pep Guardiola with Barcelona in 2009.

This will be the second team that Hansi Flick coaches after the Spaniard. This time, more time has passed since, but the way Pep had his Barcelona play has some deep roots that can still be seen today. Hansi Flick should have a good grasp of this kind of football, he may fit very well on the touchline.

Summer Additions

This week, Barcelona president Joan Laporta gave a lengthy interview with the podcast “Barca One”. In it, he goes into detail about their plans for the summer. He says they won’t be selling off stars and that their focus will mainly be on strengthening the squad, rather than going after big names.

Some big names have inevitably been discussed though. The Barcelona - Manchester City connection remains strong as Bernardo Silva is rumoured to join the Catalan club, as he has been for years. Additionally, Laporta revealed in the interview that they’re looking to make the Joao Cancelo loan permanent. 

Speaking of Joaos on loan, the club would also like to keep Joao Felix. The Portuguese attacker is on loan from Atletico Madrid, where he’s been struggling to nail down a starting spot. He’s been good for Barcelona so far as their type of football seems to fit him better. 

The Joaos, Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix. Photo: Christian Bertrand, Shutterstock

As the new coach, Hansi Flick surely has some requests for strengthening the team. It’s said that his former player, Bayern Munich’s left back/midfielder Joshua Kimmich is looking for a move, as is his team mate Kingsley Coman.

The most persistent rumour though, which was backed up by Laporta's statements in the podcast, is that they’re looking for a new winger. It’s looking likely that they’ll be moving on for Athletic Bilbao's 21 year old Nico Williams. 

Looking Forward

While the new deal with Nike will help the club's finances, they still have a lot of work to do to get back to good financial health. They have a couple of players on very expensive contracts. Frenkie de Jong is the highest earner in the club, partly because he agreed to postpone them during covid, and Barcelona look desperate to get them off the books. His contract still has two years on it but multiple clubs are reported to be interested.

Lewandowski is the second highest earner but under Xavi the Pole has looked untouchable, playing even when he’s been out of form for games on end. His contract runs until 2026 too. In 2021, Lewandowski crushed the Bundesliga record for most goals in a season. His coach at the time? Hansi Flick. Maybe the German can get the 35 year old back to his best. 

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