Is Bartomeu guilty?
The Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona mania is still not over.
The speculations of his departure from Barcelona still remain active. Every day, Messi is joining a new club in social media, while the President of Barcelona, Josep Maria Bartomeu is receiving a lot of criticisms – right now he is the scapegoat and the fans and media are demanding his resignation by hook or by crook.
But at the same time, it is very important to understand how guilty Bartomeu is!
Why should he resign for the sake of Messi’s stay in Barca?
Why should he be crucified for the poor display of Barca?
How long this game of scapegoat should continue to save just one player?
The Barcelona fan base and Messi media are too blind and dumb to think with a calm brain and their only motto remains to worship Messi only and find a way to save him.
This is not football.
Bartomeu is not that incompetent and he has not come this far without experiencing the ups and downs and politics at the top level.
The chaos in Barcelona Board is nothing new and it has a history of resignation under pressure and Bartomeu has come this far by watching the drama since the days.
Let’s rewind to the past
Back on June 15, 2003, Joan Laporta became President number 38 of Football Club Barcelona.
Laporta started his involvement with FC Barcelona leading the “Elefant Blau” (“Blue Elephant”), a group that opposed former president Josep Lluis Nunez and which, in 1998, tried unsuccessfully a vote of no confidence against him.
In the 2003 elections, Laporta did not start as the favourite, but his charisma grew during the electoral campaign and he finally won against the expected victor, publicist Lluis Bassat, in part because of a widely published (and ultimately unfulfilled) promise to bring David Beckham to Barcelona. Laporta had the support of other young businessmen of Barcelona, such as Sandro Rosell.
Laporta quickly became a media star, even more than some of the players.
With Laporta’s arrival, and that of football superstar Ronaldinho – his solution signing after Real Madrid had signed David Beckham – as well as new manager Frank Rijkaard, among others, the club was forced to embark on a new phase, having elected a new, young and largely untested managerial board along with him.
At that point of time, Barcelona were not a force to be reckoned and comparison to Real Madrid and other top clubs in Italy, England and Germany; they were just a mediocre bunch of unit trying hard to share the platform with the best.
His move with Rijkaard and Ronaldinho started to work wonders for Barcelona. That mediocre Barcelona suddenly became invincible and Laporte received a lot of credit for that.
After a less satisfactory 2006-07 and 2007-08, Laporta appointed the untested and inexperienced Pep Guardiola, as the head coach of Barca at the end of the “Dream Team” era – the Ronaldinho era.
Guardiola arrived in camp Nou and received a unit, which included the stars of the future and the legacy which Rijkaard and Ronaldinho had started, Pep carried on – Barcelona became invincible!
But Laporta’s journey had not been rosy. Controversies followed him consistently. His tenure ended in December 2010. Sandro Rosell took over and ran the club for four years – With an MBA degree from ESADE, Rosell is known for being the running mate and senior adviser of Joan Laporta during the presidential elections at FC Barcelona in 2003.
On June 2, 2005, Laporta faced the resignation of five members of the club’s board of directors, including Sandro Rosell. They accused him of having changed for the worse as a person, having adopted authoritarian traits and harbouring ambitions of power.
In 2006, Rosell released a book Benvingut al món real (Welcome to the real world), just as Barcelona were on the verge of reaching the UEFA Champions League final, which they eventually won. It was seen as a direct attack on club president Laporta after it promised to reveal the problems that had caused Rosell to resign
The Board pressurized Laporta and he had to leave.
The opportunity came for Rosell to run the show, but On 23 January 2014, Rosell resigned as president after judge Pablo Ruz ordered the start of a hearing to investigate Rosell for alleged misappropriation of funds over the signing of Brazil forward Neymar, saying Rosell could be called in person to give evidence.
In 2017, Rosell was jailed without bail after being accused of misappropriation of funds from the €57m signing of Neymar.
Now, the door was opened for Josep maria Bartomeu to run the show.
He started in the latter role in 2014, following the resignation of Sandro Rosell.
Partner and CEO of the companies ADELTE and EFS, Bartomeu served on the board of FC Barcelona during Joan Laporta’s presidency – as the head of the basketball section – along with Rosell, who resigned due to differences with the then President.
He then served as Rosell’s vice-president of Barcelona from July 2010 to January 2014 after they won the election with 61.35% of the vote of the members of the club.
Following the resignation of Rosell in 2014, due to the ‘Neymar case’, Bartomeu was, following the club’s constitution, elected, as the fortieth President of Barcelona, to complete Rosell’s term.
Bartomeu is being investigated in a case of alleged tax fraud over the signing of striker Neymar along with former President Rosell. He is set to stand trial after his appeal was rejected.
Isn’t the emergence of player-power a big problem?
The tenure of Bartomeu has been a bit topsy-turvy.
In 2015, he celebrated the victory of UEFA Champions League largely due to the massive contributions of the famed MSN – Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez.
There were achievements in La Liga, Spanish Cup, Copa del Ray, and World Club Cup.
But since that glory in Europe in 2015, Barcelona seem to have lost the cutting edge and after the departure of Neymar in 2017, the driving force of Barcelona frontline had gone missing. Then there were the retirements of midfielders like Xavi and Iniesta, which has dented Barcelona’s progress.
Bartomeu could guess that the Catalan Club is entering a transition period and it requires change and he wished to inject dynamism.
Philippe Coutinho was brought in the middle of a season hurting the fans in Liverpool. He could not feature in the dramatic match against Roma where Barcelona choked and Messi was there to rescue. Messi was there to rescue at Anfield and despite having the upper hand at camp Nou, he choked.
In 2017-18 and 2018-19 – one can’t say that Barcelona were not given the team to choke, but were among the best in Europe.
But still, they choked!
Bartomeu was not playing in any of the matches, but the players were!
After the choke at Anfield, in the following season, Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann were signed and young guns like Ansu Fati emerged, while Arthur was signed from Gremio dubbed as the next Xavi.
Ernesto Valverde tried to create a unit, but it was tough for him to build a team because someone called Messi had become bigger than the club and whatever the hierarchy and managers planned, had to implement it according to the wish of Messi.
As for example, Coutinho was never played in the position, where should have played in Camp Nou. He was given a little space on the left, where he hardly could flourish. But in fact, he is someone, who wanders from the center to the left, but in the center, Messi occupies the position and for heaven’s sake, he would not sacrifice his position – not to forget, for the greater benefit of Argentina in Italia 90, Diego Maradona played the role of deep-lying playmaker and even came to defence so that others could flourish. Clearly, Messi lacks leadership qualities and does not understand how to sacrifice.
Coutinho went on loan to Bayern Munich and replied to the mistreatment by scoring a brace in that 8-2 disgrace a few weeks back!
Then for the sake of his Barcelona Academy Product, Busquets, De Jong became an attacking midfielder on the right instead of playing the role of a defensive midfielder. How can one expect him to deliver? Moreover, Arturo Vidal was seen to play the role of a playmaker whereas he is a defensive midfielder.
Then, Arthur was never given the respect and value he deserves at camp Nou. At the center of the park, he became the nucleus of the side, but yet again, his freedom was cut short and his minutes were decreased.
The boy who came from Gremio with the dreams to shine in Camp Nou had to leave the place due to mistreatment – neither was he given his ideal place in the midfield to flourish nor was he valued enough because like other midfielders, he not always passed the ball to Messi, rather, tried to pass it on the zones, which could benefit the team more.
Perhaps, the most protected did not like it much!
Another high profile name – Antoine Griezmann became a laughing stock after coming to Camp Nou. He is a World Champion and classic center forward – neither a winger nor a marker, but he was played in the wider flank because the central zone is only occupied for Messi.
Valverde was shown the door – the fans demanded it, they got it.
In the middle of the season, Quique Setien was brought on from Real Betis to steady the ship, but he experienced the same – the distance between him and Messi increased.
He had to leave after that 8-2 thrashing, but the most protected one remained untouched.
When a player becomes bigger than the team – it loses its way.
How guilty is Bartomeu?
If Barcelona is suffering right now then it is only because of the increase of player power and not Josep Maria Bartomeu – who runs the club, buys players according to the financial state, and neither does he sit in the dugout nor plays on the field.
Former Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon said Bartomeu treated unfairly.
“Being sat in this chair is very difficult,” Calderon told Stats Perform News. “It is much more difficult than what people can imagine.
“There are so many critics and yet, when things go well, the praise is for players and managers. It is normal that the president is the black sheep.”
“This is the person who is accused of not signing a player or letting a player who fans consider important for the team leave. I don’t like it.”
“I don’t have the information [to properly analyze], but I think Bartomeu has been a good President. From what I see and from what I know of him, I think he is a good President.”
“It is very complicated. Even more so in this time when the team starts to lose and get that humiliating defeat. The fans don’t forgive.”
Attempting to explain Bartomeu’s actions, Calderon added, “As all presidents do, he has looked for the best for the club.”
“Whatever he has done or said, I am sure it has always been for good and trying to get the best for the club he represents.”
They all are demanding the head of Bartomeu.
But until now, he has done whatever Messi wanted.
So who should actually be blamed?