It is clear from this season that Barcelona have some work to do strengthening the squad. The defensive side, especially, is in need of an overhaul, with Puyol now 34-years old and Abidal set to retire or move into coaching. There are young defenders like Bartra, while Alex Song and Adriano can play in central defence if necessary, but one or two top class defenders are needed to strengthen the spine of the team and avoid any repeat of the Champions League debacle against Bayern Munich.
As the transfer market draws ever closer, the number of stories, rumours and downright speculation will continue to grow. There are rebuilding plans at a number of big clubs around Europe, including Real Madrid from La Liga, PSG and Monaco in France and Chelsea, Manchester United and City in the English Premier League.
Barcelona are believed to be on the lookout for some new talent, but there will be some old faces on their way out of the Nou Camp as well. Three mentioned in the papers today are the striker David Villa, the keeper Victor Valdes and the right back Dani Alves.
It would not have been the best way to win the Spanish title if Barcelona had got it by default last night. That did not happen, though, because Real Madrid beat Malaga 6-2 at the Bernabeu. They still need to beat Espanyol on Saturday to have any hope of retaining the Spanish title, but that will disappear if Barca can win at the Vicente Calderon stadium on Sunday.
Although the Barcelona players accepted that they were outplayed by Bayern Munich in the first leg at the Allianz Arena last week, it was clear that the referee was very helpful to the German side. The second and third goal definitely should not have stood, while the first was fairly dubious. Bayern were also allowed to commit constant fouls without being booked and that meant that Barcelona could not get any sort of rhythm going.
The president of Bayern Munich and a former player and manager, Franz Beckenbauer, must have no shame then after he suggested that the referee in the second leg at the Nou Camp needs to be strong to stop any cheating, from Barcelona!!
It seems as if every time Barcelona lose a game of football these days, the media go into a frenzy and suggest that the team is all washed up. The press have been proclaiming the death of tiki-taka football and the end of an era at the Nou Camp, but that is a ridiculous suggestion, especially when you consider that Barca could be crowned La Liga champions this weekend with five games to spare.
Andres Iniesta responded, “I think it is unjust to talk about the end of an era.
The players and coaching staff of Barcelona know that this one game against AC Milan could define the whole season for the club. If Barca fail to overturn the 2-0 deficit from the San Siro, most of them will look back on the season with regret, whereas a good performance that sees them through will galvanize the team for the rest of the season and install Barcelona back as favourites to lift the European cup again.
There is no official confirmation of when, or even if, the young Brazilian superstar Neymat will become a Barcelona player. According to the Brazilian media, however, it is merely a matter of when, and the consensus seems to be that the transfer will be completed in the summer.
According to Mundodeportivo, the club have been negotiating the terms of Neymar’s arrival for the last 18 months. The 21-year old was believed to be keen to stay at his club Santos until the summer of 2014, when the World cup will be played in Rio, but the belief now is that the striker feels that the time has come to move to the big time in Europe. Neymar already has 17 goals from his 28 senior international games, and has gained enough experience at club level in Brazil.
Barcelona are resigned to losing their number one goalkeeper after Victor Valdes told club officials that he will not renew his current deal which expires in 2014. The number two choice, Jose Manuel Pinto, is staying at the Nou Camp, however. He signed a short term extension which also lasts until 2014, when he will be 39-years old. He has been with Barca since 2008, and offers stability when called upon.