Behind the scenes of a historic treble, orgasmic football exploits, effervescent football talents and agreeably, the wondrous football prodigy, the world ever sighted — Leo Messi, was an embryonic football ‘politicking’, simmering in toxic heated bubbles, one to launch Barcelona into an embarrassing phase of ‘Players-Board’ rages and an internal uncompromising skirmish, better fabled ‘Civil War’.
In the plot of this narrative was at then, a 50-year old, Vice President– Bartomeu, whose history with the club was never bereft of personal controversies, of which many were begrudgingly targeted to Juan Laporta. That being said: Bartomeu has always been close to the presidency seat, served as basketball president and ultimately, Vice President. But his rise was the product of a vacuum, shoehorned into by an unending dispute between Rosell and Laporta.
As clever Bartomeu did, he paddled those spaces craftily, becoming the 50th Barcelona president. Since 2013, Bartomeu already displayed glimpses of a methodology similar to an absolute monarch. To him, Barcelona was an empire and his, days an epoch, striving to carve a dynasty. The dynasty really did matter in the ‘on pitch glories’. In 2015, Barcelona walked Europe like the Vikings once did, destroying everything in its path. The trident— Messi, Suarez, Neymar were Europe’s foremost Nightmares and that night in Nou Camp against Bayern Munich was one to dwell in the memories of the Bayern players for long.
An ignominious remembrance day most particularly for Boateng, who following a subtle drift from Leo, collapsed like a startled fellow in presence of a fearsome griffin. There was no mistake about it: Barcelona went on course to winning a second treble, the first club on planet earth. The empire also thrived beneath the grasses of Nou Camp, becoming the first club to declare a $1b revenue in the history of club football economics: that again was a historic win and more ‘pride- tingling with the ArchRivals still far from the success. The Bartomeu dynasty won a record, 71 trophies across all competitions with the female football team, on high.
However, the Bartomeu led Barca tilts closer to irrelevance, and about to reincarnate the 2000’s-2006’s era when the club went trophyless for six years.’ When I was Real Madrid coach, the only thing Barcelona celebrated was the club’s birthday’ mockingly chipped Vicente Bosque, Real Madrid manager from 1999 to 2003. From 2015 till the period of this piece, the club has 11 titles to his name, albeit, the future from here appears darker ever than before.
The main protagonists of Barca’s european status: Iniesta, Xavi, Puyol, Alves, are all gone, and the onus relayed to ageing Messi, Suarez,Pique, Alba, Busquets who are all in their early thrities, a plummeting sign in football’s parlance. Now, at Barcelona, both the ‘on pitch and ‘off pitch’ dramas are anti- climax.
One was the open letter of Leo Messi against the board ‘accusing them of a contrition to paint the players in bad light’ following media backlashes against the players in the mesh of the pandemic. It is increasingly clearer that the club’s bigwigs are at diametric opposite to Bartomeu, the pandemic ironically exposed more administrative hubris.
The club’s online presence was rumoured to have been hijacked by Bartomeu’s personally employed team, whose diabolical propaganda was to unabashedly malign players. it was a rumour cum truism, but given the antecedents of a Man whose haughty objectives is to form a sort of dynasty, even driving towards dire extremity to solidify his aegis, That, perhaps might be very possible.
But lately, the hubris has succumbed itself to open glare ever than before. Reflected in the team’s performance, is an air of uncertainty, unable to be doused, even by the greatness of Leo Messi. More worryingly, is the handling of transfers and player’s recruitment. For a club that owes its pride to the resourcefulness of the famous La Masia, Barcelona under Bartomeu incidentally drifts off shore, laden with misplaced transfer priorities and fluffed with millions of dollars on ‘overpriced’ players. Every attempt to rectify an anomaly is compensated with a grander error. It is a wonder that Barça’s key players in European conquest are yet to be replaced. Alves, Xavi, Iniesta, Neymar, all since 2016.
The monstrous responsibilities, therefore becomes hard pressed upon a 33 year old Messi, who obviously has passed his prime and surrounded by players exposed to a completely foreign football system and, an overtly demanding football fans. The picture of Bartomeu in this scheme highlights nothing other than an insouciance to perhaps, ‘on pitch glories’ but an alternative ‘off pitch achievements’ likewise repletes an economic disaster, with €460m debt.
For Barcelona, the wait upon Bartomeu’s Empire decline is ‘universal’. 2021 appears to be ten years away. More prospects might be jettisoned, the squads might be a home for ‘oldies’. And, consequently Barça, once an exterminating Vikings, might just become toothless bulls, barking viscerally of past glories.