Barcelona’s list of frustrated players is increasing everyday.
Off the pitch events in recent weeks, compared with the Barcelona squad arriving at a key moment of the season lacking resources has seen various players express their anger.
Lionel Messi was the first and then Gerard Pique appeared before the Napoli game and, after the 1-1 draw in Italy, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic spoke out.
While the result was OK — and came after Barça returned to the top of La Liga at the weekend — the players are no longer hiding their feelings about the poor squad planning.
Coach Quique Setien has just 16 first team players available at the moment, including backup goalkeeper Neto, injured Gerard Pique and new signing Martin Braithwaite, as well as Ansu Fati, the B team winger.
At this stage of the season, it seems no one in the dressing room is holding anything back, excluding Setien, who is enjoying the biggest opportunity of his sporting career. The attitude in training? Questionable methods of the former coach’ Perfect. And the design of the squad? And the decisions in terms of incomings and outgoings in January…’
With that context, Busquets, named man of the match in Naples, sent a message: “[Nelson] Semedo and I were one booking away from a ban so we were always running that risk [of suspension]. We hope Pique’s injury is nothing serious but we will take on the second leg with what we have. We don’t have a deep squad because, unfortunately, that’s how it was planned.”
The midfielder added: “We have a small squad, we don’t have players of that profile (wingers) to attack, so we have to reinvent ourselves.” The exit of Carles Perez and the injury to Ousmane Dembele are two examples.
Rakitic, one of the players suffering and inconsistent season, agreed: “We have a short squad but those that are in charge knew that. The solution is what it is. Those that are available will have work really hard because we have an important match in the second leg.”
The reaction of these two veterans of the dressing room, directly questioning the club’s planning, united with Pique criticising the environment surrounding the club and the players and Messi’s recent comments asking for respect and denying that players are involved in picking coaches.
Barcelona plays against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.