Barcelona FC is one of the top teams in the world. However, just because the Spanish side is one of the very best in the game, that doesn’t mean it’s immune from age issues. That’s right, just like every other team in the world, Barcelona’s leading players don’t stay young forever and, as we look forward to the next few seasons, there are a number of potential problems for the club.
Indeed, while it might be possible for the owners and executives to wave some cash at the top players and stop them signing for another team, there’s nothing they can do about old age. Sure, the finest nutritionists, strength and conditioning coaches and rehab experts can keep the club’s finest ticking over for as long as possible. However, it’s impossible to stop the hands of time.
An Aging Roster
This is a harsh reality that Barcelona fans will have to face once again in the coming seasons as the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and others head over the hill. If we look through the first team, seven players are either 30+ or they’re about to exit their twenties:
- Gerard Piqué – Born in 1987
- Ivan Rakitic – Born in 1989
- Sergio Busquets – Born in 1988
- Arda Turan – Born in 1987
- Andrés Iniesta – Born in 1984
- Luis Suarez – Born in 1987
- Lionel Messi – Born in 1987
To compound this issue, the youthful Neymar looks all but set to exit the Camp Nou in favour of PSG’s Parc des Princes stadium. Essentially, the winds of change are currently blowing through the changing rooms at Barcelona and that could cause something of a crisis in the coming seasons. Indeed, with world-class talent such as Messi, Iniesta and Suarez all at the backend of their careers, there could be some serious holes on Ernesto Valverde’s team sheet.
Youth is On Barcelona’s Side
Fortunately, it doesn’t look as though the age issue is affecting the team’s chance of success in the eyes of the odds makers just yet. Looking at the latest football betting lines at Sun Bets ahead of the new season, Barcelona and Real Madrid are currently separated by a whisker in the odds table. At the time of writing, the former sat at 20/21 in the annual La Liga betting stakes while the latter were 4/5. In essence, the number bods don’t see much change in the makeup of either side or their potential chances of success in the coming season.
However, if the elder statesmen of the team all decide to drop-off at once, then Barcelona’s odds could length dramatically in the coming seasons. Fortunately, just as the passing of one is offset by the birth of something new in real life, there is always new talent rising through the ranks at the Spanish club. Now, we’re not expecting anyone to step in and fill the boots of a player like Messi in their first season in the senior side, but there are certainly some promising prospects in the youth team.
Dani Morer: Aside from showing his credentials as captain of the under-19 side on a couple of occasions, Morer is as cool as they come when in possession. While it might be a stretch to say he’s ready to become the next Piqué, he can move from his natural right sided position to a central role with ease. In fact, it’s his composure and versatility that could make him an important figure at Barcelona as he comes of age.
Wilfrid Kaptoum: He’s been on the fringes of the first team since 2016, but Kaptoum could be the type of midfielder Valverde could look to if any of his top stars retire in the next couple of seasons. Indeed, he’s already scored in the Copa del Rey and the Champions League and his rangy stride makes him a constant threat. Assuming he can work on his consistency, he should have a bright future at the Camp Nou.
Carles Perez: Barcelona may never have another forward like Messi, but Carles Perez is certainly a hot prospect. Having established himself as the most important player in the youth side, Perez will be hoping he can grow into a first team role over the next five years. Perhaps the best reason those with an eye on the club’s emerging talent are hot on Perez is because of his left football. As accurate as it is powerful, this may soon become a prized asset for Valverde.
While age is clearly a factor at Barcelona, it’s not quite the end of the world just yet. With the top players having at least another season or two left in the mix, fans don’t need to panic. In fact, with some interesting players waiting in the wings, there might not be any reason to panic at all. Indeed, as it stands, it might simply be a case of “wait and see” what the future holds as Barcelona move deeper into what’s clearly a transitional period.
Daniel Smyth is a freelance sports betting writer with a keen interest in a variety of sports, including football, boxing and MMA. After starting his career in poker almost a decade ago, he now writes for many of the largest betting sites in the industry.