How is Gerard Piqué dealing with the crisis at Barcelona without his famous former team-mates?
Hi, I’m Chloe and this is the Playmaker.
One story every day to make sense of the world of football.
Today, all by himself. How Gerard Piqué is dealing with the crisis at Barcelona without his famous former team-mates.
Gerard Piqué must have felt pretty alone when his Barcelona side lost 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last week. He’s one of the only players still left from a Barca squad that were so incredibly successful in the recent past.
When Lionel Messi moved to PSG, the loss to Barcelona was seismic. But he wasn’t the only one to leave the cash-strapped club. Striker Antoine Griezmann also went back to Atletico Madrid.
That’s an awful lot to take in one summer.
Especially when you consider that Luis Suarez had gone the summer before, and star players Dani Alves, Carles Puyol, Andres Iniesta and Xavi had all long-since moved on.
And even back in 2013, Piqué knew it would be tough without them.
“We know that one day, we will stop winning things for one year, or maybe two years. But now if we can continue doing these things until one day maybe Puyol, Xabi, they have to retire. I don’t know…in two, three, maybe four years…I hope they can stay a long period but one day there are maybe a lot of players that have to go.”Gerard Piqué, Sky Sports
And of course, that’s before you take in the humiliating 3-0 loss to Bayern last week.
He was pretty honest, if not downbeat when he admitted to reporters that “we are who we are” after that match.
The thing is… that really isn’t who Barcelona are.
Piqué has won eight La Liga titles with Barca, has been the winner of seven Copa del Rey trophies and has lifted the Champions League three times.
“We are really really happy, I mean never in the history of this sport has a team, er, get the treble twice, we are the first and er I don’t know… we have to feel really happy about it. We have to enjoy, we have to party tonight and we will see next year.”Gerard Piqué, Sky Sports
This season, Barcelona were starting their first Champions League campaign without Messi since 2003. And it showed. But even last season, they were knocked out by PSG in the Round of 16. That was their earliest exit in 14 years.
“Ruthless, bristling Bayern beat them by three goals to nil at the Camp Nou. In many ways, it wasn’t even really a fair contest and Koeman knows he’s got a lot of work to do. Full time… Barcelona nil, Bayern three.”BT Sport commentary
The problems run deeper than just on the field too.
Severe financial issues at Barca have been a surprise to some, and that’s pretty understandable. Back in 2019/20, Barcelona were at the top of the Deloitte Football Money League with a revenue of 715 million Euros.
So, on the surface, everything seemed sustainable.
But they’d spent so much on players and wages – the most in Europe – that a sudden reduction in income due to the Covid crisis hit them hard. Really hard.
It wasn’t just from lack of crowds either. The pandemic caused a sharp drop in commercial and sponsorship income. Barcelona were forced to take out short-term loans with high interest rates just to keep the club going.
You could say that they were unfortunate. But any business knows that when you spend such a large percentage of your turnover, even a small event could cause sizable financial challenges.
“On the subject of being reckless, I read a line this past weekend from Joan Laporte, former President of Barcelona who’s pitching to take that same job again… he talks about being the three billion dollar club. A billion in revenue, a billion in expenses and a billion in debt. That’s just unsustainable, isn’t it?”
“It’s unsustainable, yes.”beIN Sports, USA
La Liga also has a salary cap. A sharp cut in the total the club were allowed to offer to their players was the reason that they couldn’t offer Messi a new contract.
Piqué was one of the existing squad who took a salary cut. That was so that the club could register their new signings.
He didn’t have to, but where would his club be without it?
After all, he is Barca through and through. He was a product of the famous La Masia youth academy and – although he left the youth setup for four years spent at Manchester United – Piqué has been at Barcelona as a professional ever since he rejoined in 2008.
I guess this is the moment where the phrase “through thick and thin” comes in for Gerard Piqué.
And things may just get worse before they get better.
Today’s episode was written by me, Chloe Beresford, and produced by Studio Klong.