BARCELONA

Barcelona dressing room wants elections and Xavi as coach

Gerard Piqué's senior colleagues agree with his call for "structural" change after Friday's Champions League thrashing by Bayern Munich.

Barcelona players want elections and Xavi Hernández as coach
Michael Regan/UEFA via Getty Ima Michael Regan/UEFA via Getty Ima

Barcelona’s dressing room is in no doubt: the Catalan club need to call presidential elections. One of the team’s vice-captains, Gerard Piqué, indicated as much after Friday’s 8-2 Champions League thrashing by Bayern Munich, when he told his post-match interview that an overhaul is in order at the Camp Nou.

Piqué: "Structural" change needed at Barcelona

"I hope something can come from this humiliation," Piqué said. "We need to take stock - and changes are needed at the club. I’m not talking about the players or the coaching staff, but something more structural. We have to change the direction we’ve been heading in for a number of years now. We’ve hit rock bottom."

Piqué was not alone in his take on Barça’s predicament. The Blaugrana’s major dressing-room figures are fully on board with his comments, including his suggestion that some of the team’s old guard may need to be sacrificed and fresh blood brought in (“I will be the first one to leave if that's what's best for the team”).

Players accept their portion of the blame for Bayern battering - but also look to Bartomeu

The players were swift to assume their own culpability for their mauling by Bayern, acknowledging that they were sluggish and outfought, but they also believe they weren’t well enough prepared tactically and that years of erratic off-the-field decision-making led them to their Lisbon humiliation. They feel they have not been helped by squad planning that has yielded an unbalanced first-team group.

Like Piqué, other senior players are willing to fall on their sword if that helps to get the club back on course. However, they also expect the president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, to be brave enough to do what’s best for Barça and call elections (which are due in summer 2021) ahead of schedule. “The atmosphere is too strained,” one senior dressing-room figure said. “Things won’t be put right by making the odd signing, by bringing in a fresh face or two; we need a reset.”

COPE: Messi demands elections be called at Camp Nou

Indeed, Spanish radio station Cadena COPE has reported that Lionel Messi has demanded that elections be called; otherwise, he won’t be planning on renewing his contract in 2021, his camp says. “Right now, we need new ideas, new faces and new plans,” is the word from within a devastated dressing room.

Xavi the players' choice to turn Barcelona around

Among the senior players, the feeling is that a leader needs to be brought in who knows Barça, who can rally the troops and has enough personality to revitalise a club at a low ebb. And there’s only one name on their lips: Xavi Hernández.