Having failed to reach the Champions League final (as well as La Ligas), with a looming transfer ban, and having to deal with former coach Tito Villanova’s untimely death, it has been a tough season for the famous side. What now for Barcelona?
Where does the team go from here?
In the short term, it would be surprising if there was any great change. The transfer ban remains something of an unknown quantity, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (‘CAS’) unlikely to make any decision until at least midway through the transfer window which opens on July 1st. Goalkeeper Victor Valdes and captain Carlos Puyol have already announced they will leave the club, but there are already deals in place to replace them, including the likely signing of Borussia Moenchengladbach goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Although the ban is likely to be upheld, at least in some form, the suspension of it pending the CAS’ decision at least gives Barca time to plan for the future. There is much for new coach Luis Enrique, promoted from the B team post on Monday, to work with, even if there might not be much of a turnover of playing staff.
In terms of the domestic position, there will be no great panic. Barca came within one goal of winning La Liga and this is only the second time in the past six years that they have failed to finish the season as champions. Atletico have been having the best season in their history and only time will tell whether they can challenge the Barca-Real Madrid duopoly that has controlled La Liga for so many years.
No matter what happens over the summer, it would be a major surprise if Barcelona were not firm favourites to win La Liga when the markets reopen and, if anything, the possible emergence of Atletico as a third power at the top of the table, might mean that you can get a better price than ever on Barca winning in 2014-15.