Era extended?

Perhaps Dani Alves was right. Under Pep Guardiola, Barcelona monopolised European football, trophies came in at an exponential rate and it seemed that no one could deal with limitless power. With trophies came high expectations, and the Catalans often lived up to the hype. Their dominance of Europe was taken for granted.

Out went Pep and, coincidentally, Barcelona’s inspired form came to a halt. Yet, despite the lack of chemistry and creativity which we become used to seeing, La Blaugrana managed to scrape through the toughest of tests due to the sheer brilliance of the miniature Argentine, Lionel Messi. Their successes, without a doubt, overshadowed the team’s weaknesses.

This term, institutional issues have taken their toll. Messi’s tax evasion issues followed by Neymar’s contract dilemma all contributed to poor on-field performances. And while Tata Martino made tactical decisions sometimes seem foolish, the blame should not rest solely on the Coach.

Since FIFA’s opted to sanction Barca from purchasing players due to the club’s handling of underage players, the Camp Nou outfit have crashed of the Champions League, lost the Copa Del Rey final and lost their grip on the top spot in La Liga. The prospects of gaining silverware, which previously was almost a certainty, went up in flames.

Yet despite their desperately poor performances, Alves stood by his mates, slamming the media for saying that it was the end of the era for the club.

In an extraordinary turn of events, Barcelona were handed a lifeline, with FIFA suspending the transfer ban which had befallen them. With their ban delayed, President Josep Maria Bartomeu and company have little choice but to make sure that the end of the era for Barca isn’t nigh.

Firstly, it is imperative that Barcelona force through transfers which have failed to materialise in recent years. As the average age of the squad increases and the golden generation begins to slip into obscurity, there is a desperate need for reinforcements and regeneration.

While he still has the ability to thread an inch-perfect pass, Xavi Hernandez is no longer the player he used to be. Cesc Fabregas, although still a world-class player, has been unable to replicate the form that saw him soar to at Arsenal.

Defensive instability continues to plague Barca while sterility in attack, especially when Messi is far from his best, are issues that need to be addressed. And the summer transfer window is the best time to get to the root of such problems.

In addition there is an evident need to clear up the institutional issues which have left their mark on the club. Perhaps an early Presidential election in order to rid the club of the current regime would do the club more good than harm.

At Barcelona these days, it seems everything is a possibility. However, instead of shying away from these issues, the club’s hierarchy must proactively address them and this summer is an ideal time to do so.