After the turbulent reign of Ronald Koeman, the final Josep Bartomeu coach, Barcelona was in disarray when Xavi took over as manager.
Both on and off the field, there was fatalistic culture and financial instability. This is the setting that Xavi entered.
And yet, there was a desire to back the Barcelona icon, turn the team around swiftly, and return it to its winning ways, led by president Joan Laporta and director of football Mateu Alemany.
With a price tag of 55 million euros, Ferran Torres became Xavi’s first target in January 2022.
But from the start, the returning Ousmane Dembele and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang—who was brought in on a short-term loan—took precedence over the Spanish player.
Since then, despite his aptitude for seeing open spaces, Ferran has continuously lacked confidence in front of goal.
Raphinha, who cost 65 million euros, was the big addition during Xavi’s first summer in command the following year.
Like Ferran, the Brazilian had his moments, but he was never nearly as good as one of the finest in the Premier League when he played for Leeds United under Jesse Marsch and subsequently under Marcelo Bielsa.
Their troubles stem from diverse things.
To be honest, Ferran was probably overrated. Despite having glimpses of his talent for the Spanish national team, he never lived up to Pep Guardiola’s expectations. It’s odd that Xavi thought so highly of him and paid more for his services
Raphinha was a skillful individual. However, in contrast to Ferran, who is adaptable and can play a variety of positions while adjusting to different systems, Raphinha was a one-man show in Bielsa’s aggressive, high-tempo, offensive game.
Whatever Xavi does next, it’s going to be like trying to put square pegs into round holes.
And yet, the manager would be wise to give his older players a vote of confidence ahead of a crucial stretch of games that define the season.
That might entail selecting a front three consisting of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, and Ferran Torres after the international break.
Xavi selected these three players to lead the assault in his system, which is somewhat ironic.
Few fans would be thrilled to see this pair used when the lineup is revealed these days.
Nevertheless, if Barcelona is to succeed this year, these three players must step up and find their footing.
If these players wish to continue their careers at Barcelona beyond this season, this may be their last opportunity. Time to either drown or swim. moment has passed them by if they are unable to contribute at the necessary high level at this moment.
Relying on Lamine Yamal would be the wise course of action. This, in my opinion, wouldn’t aid in the 16-year-old’s growth and would also have an immediate negative impact on the team’s short-term success.
Right now, Raphinha is the finest choice. In addition to his ability to put in service and score goals, he has played in major games and is accustomed to handling pressure. If he can maintain composure and remain on the field, that is.
Either Ferran or Joao Felix is on the left. Felix’s form has declined, and it is argued that he probably won’t stay at Barcelona for the entire season.
Ferran was an investment, and despite his poor performance, there are still benefits to being patient with him so he can gain self-assurance. Furthermore, Alejandro Balde and Felix have not yet gelled as a team on the left side. It’s worth examining if Balde and Ferran work well together.
Lastly, despite their inconsistent offensive play, Ferran and Raphinha both provide significant defensive contributions.
Barcelona might wish to go back to their previous strategy of prioritizing defense in order to win close games.
With a backline consisting of Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde, and Andreas Christensen and Joao Cancelo rotating in depending on the opposition, Barcelona could have a winning combination that, if maintained, could win them trophies in La Liga.
On the basis of merit, Ferran and Raphinha don’t really deserve the chance. However, they might be the finest of Xavi’s awful options.
Reverting to the four-man midfield lineup is an option. It sounds good to have Ilkay Gundogan, Pedri, Gavi, and Frenkie de Jong. However, from a tactical perspective, it hasn’t improved Barcelona’s possession dominance or goal-scoring threat.
However, Xavi needs “his” teammates to come through for him.
On paper, Ferran and Raphinha are qualified, familiar with the positions, and capable of making contributions on both sides of the ball.
This might be their farewell party or coming out celebration.
The management must first restore his trust in them.
Both of their reputations are at stake, even Xavi’s.