Luis Enrique needs a break.
Luis Enrique needs a break. / EFE


Something's got to give

  • Luis Enrique's time as Barcelona head coach looks set to end after his side's thrashing in the Champions League this week, but the problem lies much deeper than that

The knee-jerk reaction to Barcelona's embarrassing Champions League humiliation in Paris was to blame the coach.

This isn't a sudden collapse and it isn't the coach alone who should be shouldering the blame; this is the result of poor signings and a complete lack of young talent coming through the much-lauded academy.

The successful Barcelona model was to nurture home-grown talent and only make a world-class, marquee signing, like Neymar or Luis Suárez, if they hadn't bred their own in a particular position.

La Masia was the envy of the world as Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Piqué, et al broke through. The list seemed endless.

The list has now proven to be finite, though, with Sergi Roberto the last graduate of the academy to establish himself . And he's now 25. Barcelona have bought rather than bred in recent years and, to be blunt, they have invested awfully.

The past two summers, they spent well over 150 million euros and the squad hasn't been noticeably strengthened. Valencia can't believe they received in the region of 60 million for Paco Alcácer and André Gomes, both of whom appear substandard. The two young France internationals, Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Digne, may be classed as a combined 40-million investment for the future but in the present they fall short of reaching the standard set by their predecessors at the club. Remember that the previous summer, Barça had lashed out a combined 45 million on Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal.

That's 150 million in two seasons and not one of the signings has established himself in the team.

I do think Luis Enrique will walk in the summer. I still think he can hold his head reasonably high after his remarkable achievements. He arrived full of fresh ideas, just like Pep Guardiola, and he will leave looking like a ball of stress, needing a long break... just like Pep.

There will be an end-of-season inquest when Real Madrid claim the league and Barcelona have departed the Champions League early. The findings will be foolish investment and a broken system.

It may be that they have to recruit a coach who can work with players who don't provide the highest quality back-up to the superstar trio of Messi, Suárez and Neymar.

There will be conversations going on within the walls of the Camp Nou regarding what to do about next season's leader as there is no obvious replacement.

Ernesto Valverde is highly regarded for inspiring Athletic Bilbao to achieve beyond the limitations and he was at for Barcelona a couple of years as a player.

Another candidate has to be Eusebio Sacristán, currently inspiring Real Sociedad. Exceptionally, he took a team that was fearing relegation under David Moyes to, just a year later, looking a good bet to qualify for the Champions League. He's served at Barça as a B-team coach and also assisted Frank Rijkaard.

Whatever happens, expect a sign reading "Under New Management" as normal service needs to be resumed ASAP.