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Chaos at boardroom level, Galacticos over cantera - are Barcelona turning into Real Madrid?

09:00 GMT 26/02/2017
Josep Maria Bartomeu FC Barcelona Rakuten
With expensive signings, no midfield plan and a cold relationship between players and club chiefs, the Blaugrana have started to resemble their rivals


The roles have reversed. Not so long ago it was Real Madrid who were known for their policy of signing superstars and their turmoil in the boardroom, while Barcelona bolstered their strength in depth by plucking players from their youth system. These days, however, it is the other way around. 

Bauza: Messi needs to be happy

In the summer transfer window, Barca outspent Real in the market as Luis Enrique brought in Paco Alcacer for €30 million and sent Munir El Haddadi on loan in the other direction. Meanwhile, the Catalan club also signed Andre Gomes for €35m (plus add-ons) when many fans wanted to see the exciting Sergi Samper given a chance.

Munir and Samper were already adapted to the Barca style of play and the two would surely not have done any worse than the men who replaced them. But like Real in the past, this was cartera over cantera (wallet instead of youth system).

By contrast, Madrid brought back their homegrown striker Alvaro Morata in the summer, while there have been opportunities for Spanish talents Lucas Vazquez, Nacho, Marco Asensio and others - like Mariano - in the first XI this term.

Every outfield player except Fabio Coentrao has scored for Real in the current campaign as Zinedine Zidane (a coach who is a former player and who was promoted from the B team) attempts to move away from the dependence on individual stars.

Barcelona have no idea how to treat players - Dani Alves

Over at Camp Nou, however, it is Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar rescuing Barca time and again and even the team's once-great midfield has betrayed the style that made it great. In terms of philosophy, Madrid are ahead of their rivals right now.

And while Zidane exudes charm and charisma in his press conferences, Luis Enrique is a prickly presence in interviews and briefings, antagonising journalists in a manner reminiscent of the way Jose Mourinho used to treat the media during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

There are other parallels with the Portuguese, too, notably the refusal by Barca and Luis Enrique to attend the FIFA gala for 'The Best' in January, just as Madrid's players had done for the Ballon d'Or ceremony in 2012.

And instead of self-criticism for some of their poorer performances on the pitch this term, the referee rants by Barca's players resemble the kind of victim card previously played by Mourinho's Madrid.

Jordi Alba wants Isco at Barcelona

Real were devastating on the counter-attack during the tenure of the current Manchester United manager, yet they were often accused of having no real attacking plan in terms of creating play in midfied against deep-lying defences. Now it is Barca struggling in the same way.

On top of all that, the Barca board has upset many of the squad at Camp Nou, including Messi, with Suarez critical of the delays in the Argentine's contract negotiations and Dani Alves hitting out at the directors at the Catalan club just ths week, saying they have no idea how to treat the players.

Previously, it was Madrid with such issues as Iker Casillas was forced out without a proper farewell, despite his legend status at the Santiago Bernabeu. Right now, however, everything seems pretty harmonious at Real and it is the Blaugrana with the problems at boardroom level.

So while many Barca fans will not want to see it, their club is currently starting to look like Madrid at their worst and, whatever happens in the remainder of the season at Camp Nou, the Catalans could do with restoring some of their core values in the summer.