Barcelona Are at Further Risk of Losing Their Identity If They Sign Luis Suarez

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Barcelona Are at Further Risk of Losing Their Identity If They Sign Luis Suarez
Jon Super/Associated Press
Luis Suarez could be the next big signing for Barcelona after Neymar.

Barcelona's pursuit of Luis Suarez, as detailed by Guillem Balague for Sky Sports, indicates a further shift in attitude from the Catalans.

Coming just a season after the signature of Neymar for a not dissimilar figure to that being touted for Suarez and a few years on from Zlatan Ibrahimovic's ill-fated sojourn in Catalonia, it shows just how much Barca are now willing to move away from their previous La Masia-inspired identity to a more Galacticos-style existence.

A club who will now spend whatever is necessary and do whatever it takes to buy the best players available, despite the trade off of tarnishing their exemplary image.

Perhaps the notion that Barca were always going to be football's romantics was a little too fanciful. After all, the game has changed immeasurably in recent times. The Blaugrana have to move with those times or be left behind.

Things really began to alter behind closed doors at Camp Nou when Qatar Foundation were accepted as the club's first commercial shirt sponsors, something that Barca had managed to resist for 111 years.

MANU FERNANDEZ/Associated Press
Sandro Rosell after signing the first Qatar Foundation contract.

With the contract signed, the first nail in the coffin of "mes que un club" was hammered home. 

What's interesting about the Qatari involvement is that Pep Guardiola, a Barca socio and proud exponent of Barcelonisme, was quite vocal in his support of it. Per NDTV, he said at the time of the shirt deal:

Qatar is opening up to the Western world and I know the efforts that the Foundation is putting in to do some really good things.

I think that we often don’t understand the Muslim world—nor they us.

His endorsement was probably not that surprising to those close to him, given his two-year stint in the country as a player for Al Ahli.

Don't forget, too, that at the time of the sponsorship deal, socios were led to believe it would be for five years, per A Football Report, and that as another charitable foundation, this was precisely the type of deal that Barcelona could happily align themselves with.

Supporters were hoodwinked.

In any event, once the ink had dried and the spin had stopped, it made an easier transition for Qatar Airways to supercede the Qatar Foundation on the shirt. Any inkling that Barca were different to any other team had evaporated.

Indeed, Johan Cruyff was quite vociferous in the condemnation of his former club at the time, per El Periodico de Catalunyavia Andrew McLean of Goal.com:

We are a unique club in world football, no one has kept their jersey intact throughout history, yet remained so competitive.

We have sold this uniqueness for about six percent of our budget. I understand that we are currently losing more than we are earning. However, by selling the shirt it shows me that we are not being creative, and that we have become vulgar.

To then purchase Neymar in the way in which Barca did left a very sour taste in most socios' mouths. It simply wasn't the way the club did things.

Not a week passed without some revelation relating to the structure of the deal, and it was only right and proper that Sandro Rosell fell on his sword as the full extent of the machinations became clear.

While the transfer ban, currently suspended, was unfortunate timing, it gave another peek into the window of a club moving away from the core values it once upheld with vigour.

The move for Suarez has divided opinion on the club even further, with Andreas Vou of beIN Sports just one to note what a huge mistake it would be for the Catalans to make good on their interest.

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But Barca just don't appear to care anymore. The club seems happy to ride roughshod over the wishes of their membership to position themselves at the head of the queue for any available player, no matter what the background. Buying players just because they can.

As Cruyff said, this is vulgar and the sort of business practice certainly not becoming of the institution, even if it has been widely accepted practice elsewhere. 

From an economic and marketing perspective, shirt sales and stadium naming rights are obviously now more important to the club than the conveyor belt of first-class talent from La Masia.

The seeds have clearly been sown, and Barca's fanbase need to accept there is no place for romance anymore as far as their club is concerned.

A case of if you can't beat 'em, join 'em? Or a step too far for Barca's loyal socio membership?

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