While Madrid cover over the hole that Cristiano has left with a smattering of minor presentations, Barça are having a rather dull summer. Their trump card was always Griezmann, who finished the summer on top of the world, but it seems that there was no 'Plan B'. The signings announced so far, centre-half Lenglet and midfielder Arthur, do not say much. Lenglet is good, but he comes in to support the two incumbents, Piqué and Umtiti. Regarding Arthur we know little. The young Brazilian did not feature in the World Cup. The supporters of a club that has Busquets and Rakitic starting in the middle of the park need something more to get them buzzing, considering also that Paulinho has disappeared back to China, in a puzzling turn of events.
Neymar's transfer ripples
In the background to this, Barça are still living off the consequences of that world-record fee generated from the sale of Neymar. They ran to purchase Coutinho, a player at least who has shown signs that he can indeed be a Barça player, and Dembélé, still an unknown and with an unconvincing World Cup. This was all a tremendous expense, the biggest inflationary blow to the transfer market, and was a greater outlay than the revenue for Neymar, at the time, the only viable alternative to the Cristiano-Messi duopoly. Dembélé is still nothing more than potential. The euphoria that was created when Neymar left for 222 million is being felt now, when they go out into the market.
Griezmann killed the Barça plan
That and Messi. With his latest contract renewal the cost of the squad has reached 85% of the Barça budget, something that goes beyond any reasonable limit. This could still be alleviated with further departures, but as yet no new homes have been found for André Gomes, Aleix (maybe Sevilla), Alcácer, Douglas, Marlon, Rafinha, Digne, Yerry Mina ... In almost all these cases, the challenge is their income, something none of the potentially interest parties can pay. With all this in mind, the summer of the 'First Year After Iniesta' is proving an uphill struggle for Barça. Yes, they won the double last term, but they appear not to have a solution for freshening up the squad and reigniting the excitement. Griezmann chose to stay with Atleti, and that ruined the plan.