The introduction of a new coach inevitably signals a new era at Barcelona. Following the controversies of previous seasons in which off-field issues relating to illness and, ironically, transfers, among other things, have negatively impacted their on-field form, Luis Enrique's arrival is a breath of fresh air for the club. However, more needs to be done if the Camp Nou outfit are to win titles this season.
After a disappointing stint at Roma, where he failed to live up to the hype that was expected of him, Lucho returned to Spain, taking the reins of Celta Vigo. And his time there was an unprecedented success with Os Celestes finishing ninth with 14 wins and 49 points in total.
Meanwhile, Barcelona themselves were pipped to the title on the final day as Atletico Madrid managed to break the Clasico duopoly as they became the first side in 10 years to win the La Liga title, claiming their 10th title—the first since 1995/96.
By all means, a second-placed finish in both the league and the Copa del Rey would be considered a successful season. For Barca, though, enduring a season in which they failed to claim any notable sort of silverware is a failure, and Gerardo "Tata" Martino's admission of failure in conjunction with his swift departure was testament to a need for change at the club.
Following his departure, Martino commented, per Goal.com:
I'm completely dissatisfied with the year that has passed and I'm always thinking that I'm the man responsible. For sure, there were justices and injustices. It's hard for me to tell which were which. But I can say, as I said when I left Barca, that I feel responsible for their really bad year.
Thus far, Enrique has instigated the changes that were needed. Not only has he bravely promoted La Masia graduates Rafinha, Munir El Haddadi and Jordi Masip to the first team, he has also spent the cash n shoring up deficiencies his side may have, most notably in defence.
There is an old adage which states that competition amongst players only serves to push each other to greater heights. This could not be any more appropriate when describing La Blaugrana's summer additions.
In order to address Victor Valdes' departure, via the Daily Mirror, in came Claudio Bravo and Marc Andre ter-Stegen, per the Daily Mail—two established goalkeepers who will now fight for the No. 1 jersey.
The above statement also holds true for Barca's defensive acquisitions—Thomas Vermaelen, per BBC Sport, and Jeremy Mathieu, as noted by the Guardian—who are replacements for the recently retired Carles Puyol.
Both acquisitions have come under intense scrutiny, though, with many arguing that Mathieu, a natural left-back and Vermaelen, who has endured a terrible record of injuries over the past few years, having only managed to make 14 Premier League appearance last term, per Squawka, are not adequate signings to deal with the side's defensive frailties.
Nevertheless, both players are leaders of men in their own right and should be good enough fill in the void left behind by the former Barcelona captain in the short term.
In midfield, the signing of Ivan Rakitic, per the FC Barcelona website, has been a masterpiece as the 26-year-old Croatian has seamlessly slotted in to the side, while the signing of Luis Suarez, via Sky Sports, will undoubtedly add firepower to an attack which, at times, seemed sterile and uninspired.
Questions, though, have been raised with regard to the departures of Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas, players who were both held in high esteem at the club.
However, £130 million and eight summer signings later, La Blaugrana undoubtedly still have work to do before the transfer window slams shut. And their recent transfer ban should provide added incentive to bring in the signings they desperately need.
Indeed, Enrique has done well to reinforce a side which desperately needed a revamp. They should be fine this season. The thought of relying on their current crop of players in the long run, though, is absurd and could prove to be a risky move.
The transfer ban will only be effective come January, so with that in mind, Barcelona have another week or so to ring in the changes to the squad.
Concerns remain over a long-term successor of Xavi who, throughout the whole of the summer, has been linked with a move away from Camp Nou, with claims that he would leave for MLS side New York Red Bulls, per AS (h/t ESPN).
Either way, at 34 years of age and arguably in the twilight of his career, Xavi is no longer the key to Barca's midfield and buying a younger replacement would be an ideal solution.
Then there's obviously the Catalans' aging defence. With Mathieu about to turn 31, the injury-prone Vermaelen at 28 and the out-of-sorts Pique aged 27, a younger, more reliable defender of similar calibre is needed to ensure that Barcelona don't find themselves struggling in defence, as has been the case for the past few seasons.
There's also the question of how rivals Real Madrid will react to Barca's ban. Real always spend big—this summer is no exception. Thus far, Los Blancos have managed to sign players such as James Rodriguez, as per the Guardian, Toni Kroos, via the Daily Mail and Keylor Navas, as noted by BBC Sport.
Atletico Madrid, too, have made some shrewd transfers this summer, with Mario Mandzukic, per the Daily Mail and Antoine Griezmann, noted by the Daily Mail, joining Diego Simeone's La Liga-winning side. Any sort of advantage both clubs can gain could potentially see them pull away from Barcelona in years to come.
So far, Barcelona have done well to recruit and overhaul a side in decline. Yet, as evidenced above, more needs to be done by Enrique in what's remaining of this transfer window in order to guarantee success in the long run.
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