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Barcelona’s mix of veterans and newbies


Laporta is in a hurry to find reinforcements with little money left in the kitty. The Barça president has taken the decision to cap any player’s maximum salary at 10 million euros but, alas, three captains, Piqué, Busquets and Jordi Alba are well above that, which may make it difficult to get the cap accepted across the board. At the same time, he compensates for the lack of money by scouring the bargain aisles, which is not a bad idea. We have already seen that Florentino Pérez got it right with Alaba and it is safe to say that the same will happen with Rüdiger. Laporta is going for, or already has, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Marcos Alonso, Kessié and Di María, all of whom are out of contract. Solid players.

Add to them Lewandowski, who would require a financial outlay (the only one of a certain magnitude) to make up the bulk of the operation. Good players, several in their thirties, something that is already abundant at Barça. The high bar is set by Alves at 38, but between him and Marcos Alonso’s 31 are the captains, Azpilicueta and Di Maria. It’s true that this is less frightening these days than it was before. Players who lose a kilo a year via nutritionist guidance when they pass the age of 30 and who see resting as a part of their training can prolong their careers significantly. Take Modric and Benzema, for example. Or Cristiano. Or Joaquín, who renewed, even if it’s only for spells, at 40.

We are heading towards a Barça of veterans and newbies, because the second majority of the group is that of Gavi, Pedri, Ansu Fati (whose cure we all long for), Araújo, Nico... In those deemed ‘coming of age’ would lie Christensen, Kessié and Frenkie de Jong, the latter being the only one for whom the club could make any money, although it is not an easy call for him to agree to depart. We’ll see what comes out of this slimming down of the squad in the highest performing age group, but if things are going that way it’s because they can’t go any other way. And yet there are still essential steps in the plan to be resolved: renew Gavi, cure Ansu Fati and get rid of the Braithwaites, Umtitis and others. It’s all a bit muddled.