Barcelona made the club’s record signing when they fulfilled the buyout clause in Luis Suarez’s contract despite a four-month ban hanging over the footballer’s career. While many believe the trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and the new guy would devastate any defence in Europe and bring the Catalan club back to winning ways, I doubt if this will happen.
The three players are fantastic and they can influence the outcome of any match with mesmerising skills and eye for goal, but not many great players have been successful playing alongside Messi at Barcelona.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic cost Barcelona €69.5 million but he could not replicate his superb form that has made him very important at Ajax, Juventus and Inter Milan. He even claimed the club manager had not spoken to him for 5 months when he played his last game for Barcelona on August 25.
In an autobiography in 2011, Ibra said that things went downhill for him at Barca because Messi asked to change position.
“It was a childhood dream and I was walking on air,” said Ibrahimovic. “It started well but then Messi started to talk.
“He wanted to play in the middle, not on the wing, so the system changed from 4-3-3 to 4-5-1. I was sacrificed and no longer had the freedom on the pitch I need to succeed.”
David Villa came in and had a similar challenge, Messi was the golden boy and he would play wherever he liked. So went Villa’s career at Barcelona like Thierry Henry before him.
Alexis Sanchez was another victim, but after showing his class at the just concluded World Cup, Arsenal came to save him.
Suarez would have weighed his options very well and would have stalled the move for a call from Real Madrid, but his misdemeanor at the World Cup only meant no team without a real striker crisis would want him.
Blame the coaches for not having the guts to play Messi where they think it’s best for the team. Although it played out fine for Pep Guardiola and Tito Villanova, but Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino beared the brunt as Barcelona looked so ordinary, finishing the season without a single trophy just because Lionel Messi didn’t play well.
Where were the Pedros, Alexis Sanchez and free-scoring midfielders like Cesc Fabregas? They have become ordinary over a run of games having to play the way Messi dictates.
Now Suarez has gotten the number 9 at Camp Nou, but he may never play as such. The freedom he had at Anfield that made him lift Liverpool back to reckoning may not be there at Barcelona and this will make his career suffer like Neymar’s.
The Brazilian carries his country because he had the freedom to play and his absence was evident after his injury forced him out of some crucial games at the World Cup, with the Samba boys finishing fourth at mundial.
No team will give three players freedom to play at a time, but maybe there would have been a way out if Messi never dictates everything, but Luis Enrique is another former Barca player, who is likely going to preserve the Messi adoration.
If Real Madrid had made play all about Cristiano Ronaldo, maybe Atletico Madrid would have won the Champions League. But those crucial matches were never about Ronaldo last season and Angel Di Maria and Gareth Bale shone and helped the Madrid club to two titles.
It’s high time Barcelona learnt. Messi is never going back to his form two years ago. He will probably be more effective if the games stop being all about him and Neymar can work with Suarez to bring back trophies to Camp Nou.
Messi has become a cancer at Barcelona; he is why many great players have not succeeded there. Luis Enrique, please take note.