AS Barcelona’s problems in Europe carry on, once again the squad depth of Luis Enrique’s men is lambasted.
Too many fringe players are not performing for the Spanish giants, while recent signings have failed to make the grade at the Nou Camp.
Rio Ferdinand said after Barca’s 3-0 Champions League defeat to Juventus on Tuesday: “There’s a lot of players there that you think to yourself, they couldn’t have got in the Barcelona team three years ago – too many names to mention.
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“There are five or six in this team who shouldn’t even be putting on the shirt,” he added. It was a bold statement from the former Manchester United defender.
But Ferdinand is well-placed to judge, he was part of the United side handsomely beaten by Pep Guardiola’s team in the 2011 final at Wembley. and knows how good they were under the current Manchester City boss.
One thing is for certain at the Camp Nou, with coach Luis Enrique confirming he will leave at the end of the campaign, it will be a summer of change for Barca.
Our friends at Football Whispers look at who the Catalan giants should be looking to get rid of this summer.
French defender Jeremy Mathieu was one of the chief culprits at the Juventus Stadium on Tuesday as Barca saw their hopes of making the semi-finals diminish in Turin.
The 33-year-old almost allowed Gonzalo Higuain to head the hosts in front from Miralem Pjanic’s free-kick. He was then left for dead by Juan Cuadrado who cut back to Paulo Dybala for the opener.
Hooked at half time, the former Valencia man has not been a regular at the Camp Nou since his €20million switch in 2014.
He has made just 12 starts in La Liga this season and, after Tuesday’s horror show, he is unlikely to make many more before his contract expires next summer.
Another who has failed to live up to expectation since joining from Valencia in a €30million deal last summer is Paco Alcacer – an unused substitute on Tuesday.
Barca thought they were getting one of La Liga’s most promising strikers when they snapped up the 23-year-old on a five-year contract.
However, Alcacer has managed just three goals from 15 league appearances and has failed to net in the Champions League.
The Spanish international was always up against it trying to force his way into the MSN frontline of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. But he has looked short of the quality required and made just three La Liga starts.
Joining Barcelona should be a dream come true. But for Aleix Vidal it has been nothing short of a nightmare.
Signed from Sevilla for €18million ahead of the 2015/16 season, the versatile right-sided player was immediately prevented from playing by a FIFA-imposed transfer ban.
Finally allowed to make his Barca debut in January 2016, Vidal could not break into the side ahead of first-choice right-back Dani Alves – ironically now a Juventus player.
This season Vidal has played second fiddle to Sergi Roberto, a midfielder by trade, limiting him to just five league starts.
Finally handed his chance at the turn of the year, Vidal was ruled out for the remainder of the campaign after dislocating his ankle in February.
The 2016 summer transfer window was not a vintage one for Barcelona.
Portuguese midfielder Andre Gomes joined from Valencia in a deal which could eventually be worth €55million – not that the 23-year-old is ever likely to meet the criteria to trigger the full payment.
Part of Portugal’s 2016 European Championship winning side, Gomes arrived at the Camp Nou with a big reputation that he has failed to make good on.
Fourteen league starts have yielded just a single goal and one assist. Gomes averages less than a shot per game, makes the least average passes (33.7) and the second-fewest key pass (0.4) of any Barca midfielder.
Like former Valencia teammate Alcacer he faced a tough job breaking into the first team, coming up against midfielders like Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic. But he has made a limp fist of doing so.
Like Vidal, Arda Turan’s time with the Blaugrana has been a disaster since joining from Atletico Madrid in 2015.
Prevented from playing until last January after joining during a transfer embargo, the winger has failed to make any impression at the Camp Nou.
Turan’s first season consisted of just nine starts in La Liga and he has fared little better this term, starting just 13 times in the league and mustering three assists.
Signed in the same summer as Mathieu, the injury-prone former Arsenal defender moved in an €18million deal which had the Gunners laughing all the way to the bank.
No longer a regular at the Emirates Stadium, he pitched up at the Camp Nou following the retirement of captain and legend Carles Puyol. But the Belgian has got no-where near filling Puyol’s boots.
Currently on loan at Roma it is a forgone conclusion that the 31-year-old, who has made just seven league starts in two seasons for Barca, will leave at the end of the season.
A surprise inclusion in the players who may leave is Manchester United and Chelsea transfer target Jordi Alba.
The Spanish World Cup and European Championships winner has gone off the boil this season, making fewer tackles (1.3 compared to 1.7) per game than last term.
Alba has played less frequently owing to Enrique’s knack of changing to three at the back and provided fewer assists (four compared to six) than last season.
With rumours linking him to the Premier League – and Lucas Digne waiting to take his place – Alba might decide now is the time to leave after four trophy-laden seasons.