Poor recruitment has left the Catalan club in steep decline, with a major overhaul required to recapture their ideology

Bayern Munich, to illustrate just how bad this was, had practically reduced Gerard Pique to tears. The Barcelona centre-halfs voice was shaking as he attempted to find the words for that debacle, in a manner that was at least more successful than his attempts to find Bayerns forwards.
This is the bottom, Pique eventually said.
And yet the great problem for Barca is that, unless theres significant change, this feels like it can get a lot worse. They are directionless. It was so bad that a scoreline of 8-2 actually felt a bit within Bayern, as if it could have been greater, and ensured the story of Barcas decline completely overshadowed the potential rise of the new European champions. The Catalans led the headlines after the game.
Download the new Independent Premium app
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
Download now
Disaster, in that regard, is much more compelling as a story.
Disaster is also the word president Josep Bartomeu used on Spanish TV. That was another indication of how bad it was. The president felt the need to front up. He knows many of the questions even some of the criticisms about the need for change articulated by Pique will be specifically addressed to him.
Read more
Many around the club will willingly say its specifically Bartomeus disaster. Others are hoping Lionel Messi who, to be fair, was mostly poor on the night will leverage his power to initiate change.
These are of course all comments weve heard before, which also points to the problem. Barca have completely deviated from the model that made them an ideal for all Europe a decade ago, and ended up buying big ill-fitting names rather than players that fit into a principle. They became exactly the type of super-club they were supposed to stand against, only with even more dysfunction.
Barcas decline over the last half-decade has by now been well told, and can be traced through their Champions League eliminations, and some of the line-ups involved. Each of the last four years has involved at least one individual thrashing, and some curious line-ups not befitting Barca. Theyve also cost almost a billion in transfer fees in that time.
Barcelonas Champions League defeat
Box subheader
2017 3-0 against Juventus
2018 3-0 against Roma
2019 4-0 against Liverpool
2020 8-2 against Bayern
One figure who has worked closely with the club told The Independent that Friday nights scoreline alone should be enough to trigger the manager quitting and early presidential elections.
That points to the bigger, more interesting question: what next? Bartomeus demeanour didnt indicate a man that is considering standing down, although early murmurs from the club suggested Quique Setien would follow Maurizio Sarri at Juventus in getting sacked the morning after elimination.
Even the decision to sack the inexplicably unpopular Ernesto Valverde seems so bad now, given the stability he brought. The Basque basically covered a lot of dysfunction.
Gerard Pique reacts during Barcelonas defeat (Getty)
From that, its likely Setien never had the calibre to manage a club of this size, but he was also facing a thankless task. He is a coach who had been appointed on the basis of his ideology, under the delusion Barca still applied one, when the reality was they had by then long become a mismatch of different expensive parts. So many transfer moves have worked out abysmally. The fact Philippe Coutinho was finishing off the thrashing for Bayern here added insult to Ousmane Dembeles many injuries. They now look like they need even more transfers to solve this, despite a budget that is already tipping over. It doesnt offer much room for manoeuvre. It means they may struggle to offload players they should sell and one of them is maybe Pique.
The brutal reality is that Barca are in need of the kind of the reset they had in 2003 not even 2008. It has to go that deep, like that period when the clubs whole philosophy was changed.
They need fresh energy, to reinvigorate the entire club, from top to bottom. It is possible Mauricio Pochettino could fit that.
The club clearly like him. He has also conspicuously rowed back on his comment that, as an Espanyol hero, he could never manage Barca. He pointedly referenced it in an interview last week. Sources say he is interested.
The appointment of such a figure is necessary, but would only represent the start.
The worst part is the decline may not have even finished yet.