Barcelona are in a state of crisis.
Not only did the Blaugrana enter the new season financially unable to re-sign Lionel Messi, but they needed Gerard Pique to take a massive pay cut in order to register some of their new signings.
Marry that to the embarrassing departure of Antoine Griezmann and Sergio Aguero already struggling with injuries to get a bleak picture of Barcelona's squad heading into the new season.
Barcelona's growing crisis
And the litany of problems away from the pitch have undoubtedly spilt on to the Camp Nou turf with Barcelona finding themselves down in ninth place in La Liga after the 2-0 Atletico Madrid defeat.
Then, just to make things worse, Ronald Koeman's men sit rock bottom of their Champions League group after suffering the humiliation of 3-0 losses against Bayern Munich and Benfica.
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As such, it would be fair to say that Barcelona are in the midst of a full-blown crisis and unpicking all the problems amongst their squad, in particular, makes for an undoubtedly difficult task.
But when has that ever stopped us here at GIVEMESPORT? We simply couldn't let the free-fall of this legendary club continue any longer without putting their predicament under the microscope.
Barca's playing staff
To do so, we've called upon the trusty medium of Tiermaker to rank Barcelona's 2021/22 playing squad across a variety of categories ranging from 'economic disaster' to 'world-class'.
Ultimately, the decisions come down to the opinion of your humble GMS writer, which has been informed by statistics over the last 18 months, the eye test and my guttural instincts.
But also bear in mind that the definition of each tier, which we will explain as we go along, is more important than the stacking of each category in comparison to one another.
For example, a player being in the 'economic disaster' section doesn't automatically mean that they are a lesser footballer than those the 'middle of the road' tier just because it's placed lower down.
Ranking the Barcelona squad
Got it? Ok then, well, let's take a closer look at Barcelona's crisis by ranking their 2021/22 playing squad from 'economic disaster' to 'world-class' and everything in between down below:
Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Samuel Umtiti
Again, we're by no means saying that these three are the worst players in their entire Barcelona squad - far from it - but their presence in the dressing room all-too perfectly sums up the club's financial woes.
Considering that the Catalans signed both Dembele and Coutinho for over £100 million, reaping just 214 games and 54 goals combined in return across four seasons really does make for diabolical reading.
And Barcelona's decision to hand a five-year contract to Umtiti in 2018, which is reported to see him pocket £208,000-per-week, looks more and more crippling with each game he doesn't play a single second of.
Are they really Barca standard?
Luuk de Jong and Martin Braithwaite
Look, this is not inherently a criticism of the players themselves because Braithwaite, in particular, has proven on more than a few occasions that he can be a handy asset for the Catalans.
Rather, this tier is more a 'sign of the times' sort of moment when you zoom out for a second and really wonder whether this is the calibre of centre forwards that a club of Barcelona's stature should be depending upon.
Too early to judge
Yusuf Demir, Iñaki Peña, Alejandro Balde, Nico González and Arnau Tenas
This tier very much does what it says on the tin because although these players all have undoubted potential and talent, it's hard to draw too many conclusions about them when they have a combined 13 professional outings for the club.
Middle of the road
Neto, Sergiño Dest and Eric Garcia
No doubt some of you will think that Dest and Garcia should also be placed in 'too early to judge', but they both have enough big-game experience for us to be a little tougher on their up and down form.
And inconsistency is ok, by the way, because they're still only 20 years old. We just really want to see them kicking on this season to both justify the hype surrounding them and really push them towards the 'very promising' tier.
As for Neto, he's a solid enough back-up goalkeeper. What more needs to be said?
Ronald Araújo, Óscar Mingueza, Gavi and Riqui Puig
Some of these tightly-packed mid-tiers focusing on younger players are really tough to decide upon, but these four starlets just happen to get one's juices flowing a little bit more when it comes to their potential at Camp Nou.
Araújo and Mingueza were chucked in the deep end by Koeman at times last season, but kept their head above water to such an admirable degree that I have confidence that they can be first-team regulars for many a year.
Meanwhile, Puig has far too much experience with 48 appearances for 'too early to judge' and showed too much ability and potential across the 2021/22 season to place any lower, in my eyes.
And while, yes, 'too early to judge' would also be a fitting tier for Gavi, we've sneaked him into 'very promising' on the back of having so much talent that he could become Spain's youngest ever player this month.
Sergio Aguero, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet and Sergi Roberto
The steady decline of Alba, Busquets and Pique from unquestionably world-class players to everyday commodities at Barcelona, flitting between top-level displays and awful errors, has been sad to watch.
And it sees them rubbing shoulders with the likes of Lenglet and Roberto who are admittedly coming off tough 2020/21 campaigns, but still have enough credit in recent years to keep amongst Barca's more valuable assets.
As for Aguero, there's no denying that his finishing and finishing alone is world-class, but the accumulation of all those injuries hasn't given him enough sustained game-time and goals recently to justify a higher tier.
Ansu Fati, Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay, Marc-André ter Stegen and Pedri
With the present proving unbearable for Barcelona at the moment, looking to the future has never felt more important and these are players who we think will be critical to the club in the medium-to-long term.
Ter Stegen is the closest thing that Barcelona have to a world-class player and Depay has stood out as the Catalan's finest and most exciting star this season, so both of them will be vital in any handover to another era of dominance.
And anyone would be mad not to think that Fati, De Jong and Pedri will be amongst the world's best players in five years' time, potentially making up the spine of a legendary Barcelona side to come.
Oh, and if we were judging this on off-the-pitch matters, too, then we would absolutely bump up Pique to this tier because his remarkable pay cut was quite literally invaluable to Barcelona.
If we're sticking to your strict definition of 'world-class' here at GMS, which is that a player should be within the top three in their position in world football, then we're sad to report that the top tier is abandoned.
There is absolutely no denying that the likes of Fati, Pedri and De Jong are on course to get their one day, but one damning symptom of Barcelona's slide has been their disembowelment of world-class stars.
Barcelona at a crossroads
From the financial fiascos of signing Coutinho and Dembele for big bucks to the promise of Pedri and Fati, it's fair to say that Barcelona have come to a crossroads with their playing squad.
One can't help feeling that if the Blaugrana have any hope of turning around their current problems then it's by trusting the up and coming stars from La Masia as opposed to their transfer intuition.
In many ways, perhaps the forced departure of Messi will prove the wake-up call that Barca need because the sooner they emerge from this nightmare, the sooner they'll return to their former glory.News Now - Sport News