SEASON PREVIEWS

2022/23 Season Preview: Barcelona

Having made a big splash in the transfer window, Barcelona appear to be back but can that translate into on-field dominance in 2022/23?

Camp Nou

After what can only be defined as a steep decline in standards on and off the pitch in the past two years, Barcelona appear to be finding their way back to being a dominant force once more.

The recruitment has been nothing short of superb this summer albeit under dodgy financial circumstances but it remains to be seen if they can actually translate to trophies in the 2022/23 season.

Barcelona in the 2021/22 season hit a low point that is uncharacteristic for the club in the modern era as they failed to qualify out of their UEFA Champions League group.

The Catalan giants fell into the Europa League and even failed to salvage their pride in that competition as they got knocked out in the quarter-finals by Eintracht Frankfurt, suffering humiliation on home turf in spectacular fashion.

They did save face in the league, head coach Xavi Hernandez came in mid-season to steady the ship and guide Barca to a second-place finish in La Liga which they will now hope he can improve upon this season.

Barcelona's financial struggles are very well documented, bearing the brunt of the non-football-related issues plaguing the club and has been partly responsible for their recent decline.

However, their impressively bullish summer transfer window has signalled a quicker return to the table of the European elites than many had anticipated.

The club has now gone from grossly underperforming to now being in contention to win it all within a short period of time, remains to be seen if they can deal with the vastly increased expectations.

The €58 million signing of Brazilian winger Raphina, €50 million to bring French centre-back Jules Kounde from Sevilla and €45 million to land Polish striker Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich were the marquee arrivals.

But the free agent additions of midfielder Franck Kessie and defender Andreas Christensen as well as the re-signing of Ousmane Dembele have all seem like shrewd pieces of transfer business so far.

Phillippe Coutinho was sold to Aston Villa for €20 million, Clement Lenglet and Francisco Trincao joined Tottenham and Sporting Lisbon on loan respectively while Oscar Mingueza, Rey Manaj, Moussa Wague and Dani Alves all left as free agents.

In order to be able to afford these big signings despite their dire financial situation, Barcelona president Joan Laporta has pretty much mortgaged the club’s future, selling off rights after rights and activating levers.

The decision to fast-track Barcelona’s return to the top in the post-Messi era could go both ways and the only real way to justify it is for Barcelona to win instantly. If the team is anything short of dominant this season then the financial compromises would not have been worth it in the end.

Barcelona won 10 out of 15 possible La Liga titles between 2004/05 and 2018/19 but haven’t won it again since then making it three seasons without a league title.

This is their longest drought since they failed to win it in five attempts between 1999 and 2004 which is why domestic success would be at the forefront of their priorities this season.

A league and Champions League double would be ideal as they also haven’t won the European crown since 2015.

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