Barcelona directors Mateu Alemany and Jordi Cruyff left the Nou Camp in the early hours of Friday morning as weary heroes who performed a small miracle this summer, bringing in eight internationals.
“It was a good window,” Cruyff said from behind his own car window to the scrum of reporters. The message to Barcelona is clear. Costumes have excelled this summer… now it’s Xavi’s turn.
Barca’s window has been a dramatic improvement on what was expected at the end of last season, but the hard work on the pitch starts now and Xavi knows he will have no excuses.
Barcelona directors pose with new signing Robert Lewandowski when he was unveiled in August
“I think we could have done with one more player,” he said during his press conference on Friday.
But realizing it could be interpreted as complaining that the club are spending more than almost the rest of La Liga combined, he added: “But let me be clear, the club have made a titanic effort and I am very satisfied. . I have no complaints.
“It is what it is,” groaned Ronald Koeman of his battered side last season on their way to sacking at the end of October. Xavi has pretty much everything he asked for this summer, now he has to make it work.
Barca’s attacking options are arguably the best in Europe. Robert Lewandowski flanked by Ansu Fati and Raphinha or Ousmane Dembele, along with Ferran Torres and Memphis Depay, the versatile and more than useful forwards in squad numbers five and six.
Xavi can’t complain about his squad after summer of heavy investment
It was important that Memphis, who was Barca’s top scorer last season, stayed after the club sold Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and paid Martin Braithwaite.
Xavi was sad to lose current Chelsea striker Aubameyang and he will be missed by the club but something must have given way with Lewandowski’s arrival.
Defensively, Barcelona also look significantly improved. Xavi wanted the club to sign Thomas Meunier from Dortmund but they couldn’t afford the Belgium international right-back so he has to settle for Hector Bellerin.
Barcelona have arguably the best attacking options in Europe after their transfer activity
The free agent released by Arsenal was one of the best full-backs in LaLiga last season at Real Betis so he shouldn’t be demoted too much compared to the coach’s preference.
At left-back Marcos Alonso competes with Alejandro Balde and Jordi Alba. And in the middle, Xavi can choose from Gerard Pique, Eric Garcia, Ronald Araujo, Andreas Christensen and the best signing of the lot, Jules Kounde.
It’s an embarrassment of riches with one caveat: Alba isn’t happy. Barca tried to force him out on deadline day by leaking interest from Inter who would have agreed a deal had he been interested.
The way out for Xavi is that he will have all the cards in hand should any lingering bad feeling create a situation in the dressing room, because with Alonso and Balde he doesn’t need to use Alba if he doesn’t want to. . If the player wants to make the World Cup, it will be up to him to make his way into the team.
The defense has also improved, with Jules Kounde the summer star arriving in defense
Barca tried to send off Jordi Alba on deadline day as Inter Milan interest slipped away
Pique is in a similar situation. There’s no World Cup incentive for him, but he said at the end of last season that he thought whoever showed up he would still end up as first choice and if he worked for that it becomes a reality, Xavi is the winner again. There is a competition for places at the back like there hasn’t been for many seasons.
The same cannot be said for the midfielder who now appears to be the weakest part of the Barcelona squad – odd for a side that has driven him to so much success over the years.
The attempt to force Frenkie de Jong failed. He is now part of a six-man squad with Gavi, Pedri, Sergio Busquets, Franck Kessie and Miralem Pjanic.
That’s two players for each of the three positions, but the conspicuous absence in this group is anyone who specializes in replacing Busquets.
He will revert to De Jong as he did last week when the Spain international, now in what will almost certainly be his final season, was suspended. Pjanic could also be an option there and it’s another that the club have tried to move on.
Gerard Pique said he will always end up as first-choice centre-back despite new arrivals
Frenkie de Jong’s sending off attempts have failed and he is part of a six-man midfield squad
Xavi also had a coaching crush on Bernardo Silva but bringing him in was still a fantasy without De Jong’s sale to fund him. Likewise, Barcelona missed out on signing Cesar Azpilicueta who would have given them a huge boost in experience and professionalism at the back.
But you won’t hear Xavi complaining – he can’t complain. He started the summer fearing that Madrid would sign Kylian Mbappe and he would have to build a team from free transfers.
He racked up a sizable phone bill trying to persuade Lewandowski, Kounde and Raphinha to sign. Chelsea were interested in the first and came close to signing the second and third, but they all ended up at Barcelona.
The club have mortgaged their future to give the manager a fighting chance this season in all competitions.
Barcelona have the Champions League squad of death and Real Madrid to face at home, but their manager, in his first full season, is now very well equipped for the challenge.
Xavi wanted Bernardo Silva but bringing him in was still a fantasy without De Jong’s sale
PETE JENSON: Barcelona’s budget transfer window shocked Europe and Xavi has NO excuses