While many never thought it likely that a player of Pogba’s class and calibre would willingly sit out six months to wear blaugrana colours, he was still a pawn in this past summer’s presidential elections
Anyone remember that time when we thought Paul Pogba might be taking his talents to Catalunya? Even with Barcelona’s transfer ban, rumors still swirled through the summer transfer window that the Catalans were making a move for the Turin-based Frenchman.
While many never thought it likely that a player of Pogba’s class and calibre would willingly sit out six months to wear blaugrana colours, he was still a pawn in this past summer’s presidential elections. Now Pogba’s big-mouthed agent is saying he could still join the Catalan giants and he has a €100 million price tag, with Juventus having reportedly turned down offers of up to €85 million.
Barça aficionados the world over would be thrilled with signing such a talented player, but is spending that obscene amount of money on Pogba the way forward?
News flash: Buying talent doesn’t always equal titles. Real Madrid is well known as a spend-happy club that is always willing to splash cash on the best talent in the world. How many Champions League titles have they won in the last ten years? Only one, during which time Barcelona’s won four (2006, 2009, 2011, 2015).
While there are many factors at play here, for an ambitious club like Real Madrid, one Champions League title in ten years is underwhelming. Buying great talent doesn’t necessarily win titles consistently.
Of course, Barcelona has purchased key players in the past that helped in the pursuit of trophies. Stars such as Luis Suarez, Neymar, David Villa or Samuel Eto’o obviously come to mind. However, the contribution of €18 million signing Ivan Rakitic to the 2015 treble proves there can also be other paths to success.
But even through these purchases, Barca's key secret to success is that the core of the team remained the same. The influence of homegrown Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Pedro and Sergio Busquets made the name Barcelona's game famous the world over.
The trend has changed, unfortunately. Even with promising recent performances by Sergi Roberto and the resigning of Rafinha, the fact that Barcelona’s fringe players failed to make much of an impact against Villanovense is alarming. Covering up holes using transfers only works as long as the base is strong. However, the core of the current Barcelona is no longer formed by La Masia graduates.
Don’t get me wrong, I love these new players as much as anyone and am delighted to see them at the Camp Nou. But it is still worth asking, does developing a roster mainly through transfers create sustained success? I’m inclined to say no but only time will tell.
Ultimately, it’s all about the money. As ESPN recently pointed out, Barcelona’s wage-revenue ratio is too high. And with Messi, Neymar, and eventually Suarez set to renegotiate their contracts in the near future, they will all naturally require a sizable sum to stay at the Camp Nou.
Unfortunately, the Paul Pogbas and Neymars of the world don’t play at a discounted rate and the salaries they will command will only go up over time. Even a club with the resources of Barcelona has its limits and, with growing pressure piling on the club's accounts, nurturing La Masia is a much more sensible approach.