In the aftermath of the Bayern Munich thrashing last week, Barca defender Gerard Pique inadvertently opened the window into a rift that has developed within the club.
After the defeat Pique told Canal Plus:
“When a team is so superior, all you can do is congratulate them,” he.
“We have arrived at this stage of the season a bit knackered physically. Now we need to wrap up the league and take decisions for next season.”
At first glance, pretty inconspicuous comments from the defender. But it appears that Pique has strayed into a internal battle at Barcelona between the Barca and the football operations.
At Barcelona, there are currently two clearly defined visions about the future and direction of the team. In one corner are coach Tito Vilanova and sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta. They are convinced that the team does not need an overhaul. That they need to bringing a maximum of three signings and that Víctor Valdés should be the team’s goalkeeper next season despite having one year left on his current deal and not refusing to sign a new one.
In the opposite corner is a Barcelona board that is prodding president Sandro Rosell to launch a spending spree to help restore Barcelona’s greatness. One league title and no two Champions League semi-final defeats in two seasons is not good enough for them.
To help fund that spree, the board reportedly wants to sell the likes of Valdés, followed by Fàbregas, Alexis Sánchez, David Villa and Éric Abidal.
Amidst this backdrop at the club, Piqué’ comments have been taken as siding with the board’s plan of action. And Saturday, Vilanova brought Piqué to task for his remarks, observing:
“Perhaps he didn’t think he could be on the list of changes”
In this case, I think Pique is right. Barcelona do need to make changes this summer, Starting at the back it is clear that Valdes does not want to sign a new deal. So Barca need to get a replacement in for him. Better to do it this summer, than next summer when the World Cup will mess up everyone’s transfer plans.
Defensively, I have been saying for three years now that Barcelona need to sign at least one central defender. Puyol is breaking down more and more frequently now and they need two defenders to provide some depth and competition.
Then there is the Messi Factor. Barcelona have become a one-man team and with forwards David Villa and/or Alexis Sanchez expected to leave this summer, the club needs to bring in at least one top striker to lesson the load and pressure onLionel Messi.