Barcelona: Five ways the Catalan giants can become a force again

Barcelona in the Champions League

Barcelona are at their lowest ebb.

A humiliating 8-2 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich was utterly perplexing.

Before our eyes, we saw one of the greatest teams in world football undone by eight meaty blows.

This wasn't the club that Pep Guardiola had made one of the best in the land, nor was it Johan Cruyff's dream team of the early 1990s. 

Barca's slogan is Mes que un club - 'More than a club' in English - and that couldn't typify the Spanish outfit more.

They are a decorated footballing institution that has boasted some of the greatest players to ever kick a ball.

Think Joan Gamper, Diego Maradona, Ronaldo Nazario, Rivaldo and of course, Lionel Messi.

Mes Que Un Club

However, this crop of players lack influence, they lack direction and most of all, they lack Barcelona DNA.

Players like Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets, all people who have formed the backbone of Barca's recent success, are growing old and even Messi is 33. Things are going stale.

He looked a shadow of his former self last week against Bayern. He lost the ball countless times and didn't even trackback when he did.

This was a player who looked tired, fed up and even depressed with life in Catalonia. 

Lionel Messi

So where do we go from here?

Certainly, a new manager would be a good start but here are five ways the club can get back to their former glories.

Pick players from La Masia again

Barcelona's hailed academy La Masia is one of the best in world football. Or is it? That has become somewhat of a myth in recent years.

Gone are the days of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes when Pep Guardiola looked towards the club's academy. After he came through the door, he handed Pique, Busquets and Thiago their debuts but few have made significant enough breakthroughs since.

The latter appeared to be the most natural heir to Xavi and Iniesta but he was shipped onto Bayern, and rather embarrassingly, was at the centre of their drubbing last Friday.

This season we saw a lack of breakthrough acts. Carles Alena was given some minutes while Ansu Fati was mesmeric when afforded an opportunity. However, the rate at which La Masia's more exquisite players come through into the first-team has dropped dramatically. Perhaps their rebuild can be centred around the younger players again? 

It's certainly more valuable than playing someone like Arturo Vidal.

Barcelona's La Masia

Get rid of Bartomeu

The current regime at Barcelona is nothing short of a shambles.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu seems more interested in his own position than helping the club out - something like that is never going to end well.

Messi has already made his feelings felt on the hierarchy at the Nou Camp and with the regime as it as the moment, people like Xavi, Jordi Cruyff and Puyol are unlikely to come back. 

Like Messi, they have made it clear they will not work under someone like Bartomeu, and who can blame them? This was a trophyless season for a club who in practice, should be in Champions League finals on a regular basis.

His decisions, particularly from a managerial point of view have been baffling. Barcelona desperately need their presidential elections to be brought forward a year.

Bartomeu with Setien and Abidal

Ditch Messi

Get rid of Messi? You must be mad? No, not entirely. The canny little Argentine is one of, if not the best to ever play the game, but this is time for a fresh start.

You only need to look at Messi's disinterest as his team got smacked to realise that he has well and truly had enough. Reports have emerged that he wants to leave and it wouldn't be a great surprise if this is the year he finally leaves Barcelona behind.

He is the club captain but looks as though he'd rather be somewhere else. That isn't healthy, nor are the colossal wages Barca are spending on the 33-year-old. According to Goal, his latest deal is worth around £500,000. That's a ridiculous sum of money for someone that wants to leave.

If there was ever a time to get rid of Messi, now is it. They need something fresh.

Lionel Messi dejected

Find more Barca DNA

Barcelona are set to hire Ronald Koeman as Quique Setien's replacement and that can only be a good thing.

The Dutchman may have failed at Everton but he has Barca running through his blood. He was one of the pillars of Cruyff's squad in the 1990s, playing over 200 times for the club.

He knows what Barcelona means and they need more individuals like that to rebuild the club. However, that looks unlikely unless the current regime with Bartomeu changes. 

Building a hierarchy of club legends like Ajax have done in recent years has only served them well. They reached the semi-finals in the Champions League only last season with people like Edwin van der Saar involved. Barcelona need to go in a similar direction. 

Ronald Koeman

Make a recruitment plan

Barca's recruitment has been an absolute mess in recent years. They signed Ousmane Dembele for over £96m, a player who has spent practically the whole campaign out injured while they also forked out £142m for Philippe Coutinho.

He scored twice for Bayern last week against his parent club which just about sums things up. In short, they need to have a long hard look at themselves. This is Barcelona after all, a club who should be able to bring players to Spain at the click of their fingers.

Instead, they've overspent, not replaced legends like Iniesta and brought in questionable players like Nelson Semedo, Emerson and Martin Braithwaite. 

Braithwaite at Barca

Players like Thomas Vermaelen and Kevin Prince Boateng only left last summer too. Along with Braithwaite, those two should never have stepped foot in a Barca shirt. They have got their transfer policies completely wrong.

With the club in disarray, so much needs changing. It needs to start now. 

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