The last three years have been a bleak period in Barcelona’s history by their usual high standards. Barca have had very little to celebrate, they lost their greatest ever player (Lionel Messi) and they are on their fourth permanent manager in that period.
The Catalonians have turned to one of their former players, Xavi, as the best option going forward. The midfielder spent 18 years at the club as a player. He won the La Liga title on eight occasions, lifted the Champions League four times at the club and was named World Soccer Player of the Year in 2010.
Xavi is a man who understands Barcelona just about as well as anybody. The fans were excited when he agreed to return to the club as manager back in November, and the early signs point to this partnership being a successful one on the pitch.
The mountain was probably too high to climb for Xavi’s side to end the campaign as champions. Their priority is to finish in the top four, which would give them automatic qualification into the Champions League next season.
Barca do have the chance to win some European silverware in the 2021/22 campaign. For those who bet on sports, they are the +250 favorites for the competition. Although it won’t quite create the same excitement in the Spanish city that winning the Champions League would, it could be the first of many trophies in the Xavi era.
A great sign of how far Barca have developed on the pitch since Xavi arrived was their 4-0 victory over Real Madrid in El Clasico at the Bernabeu. They hammered their biggest rivals, a team who are sitting top of the La Liga table.
That result against Real will not only give Barcelona confidence of putting together a strong run until the end of the campaign, but it suggests they may be title contenders once again next season.
Xavi had his first chance to add to his squad during the January transfer window and he used that opportunity to sign two quality players. Ferran Torres made the move from Manchester City for a fee thought to be in the region of $49 million.
Torres was a big part of Spain’s run through to the semi-final of the European Championship in 2021. He is a player who is developing all the time, and under Xavi, he could become one of the best players in the world.
The former Manchester City man has made a good start to his career at Barcelona. He is not just a good playmaker, he is a goal threat in the team. Torres is already looking like money well spent.
On the final day of the transfer window, Barcelona were able to put a deal together to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabon international had fallen out with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, which meant he could leave North London on a free transfer.
Unlike Torres, Aubameyang is at a different stage of his career. The 32-year-old brings experience to the club, but he has also shown he still has an eye for goal. It has been an electric start to his career at the Nou Camp, and there is an argument for saying he is the best bit of business done all season in Europe.
Aubameyang scored a brace in their 2-0 victory over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. The peak of his performances so far also includes his hat-trick against Valencia at the Mestalla. Barca have had some great strikers over the years, and Aubameyang may be the latest to add his name to that list.
Whatever happens this season, Barcelona know they are going in the right direction under Xavi. With another transfer window open in the summer, they should start the 2022/23 campaign in great shape.