It’s been another topsy turvy season in the Spanish capital with Real Madrid struggling for consistency in all competitions, and Los Blancos will be desperate to rebuild this summer. In contrast, Barcelona are on the verge of securing yet another La Liga title and have been defeated on just two occasions this campaign.
The Catalan outfit remain in contention for Champions League glory; however, despite years of dominance in the competition, the holders unceremoniously crashed out at the hands of Ajax in quarter-finals. The pair look set to continue their domination of the Spanish top flight over the next decade, but are either of these two historic clubs suitably equipped to secure future supremacy?
The world's greatest number 9⃣?— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 8, 2019
In just 5 seasons, @LuisSuarez9:
🆚 Atletico – 8 goals ⚽ 3 assists 👟
🆚 Real Madrid – 11 goals ⚽ 5 assists 👟
🆚 Sevilla – 10 goals ⚽ 7 assists 👟
🆚 Valencia – 10 goals ⚽ 6 aasista 👟 pic.twitter.com/yNVMycJpyK
It’s hard to remember a time when Lionel Messi didn’t dominate the headlines in Spain, and the club could be accused of relying heavily upon the mercurial Argentine. Another superb free-kick helped give the club belief during their energy-sapping 4-4 draw with Villareal at the beginning of April, but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is unlikely to maintain those exceptionally high standards over the next five years. Although he won’t be hanging up his boots anytime soon, the 31-year old will surely begin to have less influence on games as he approaches retirement.
Although Pele is the only footballer to be included on this list of top ten inspirational athletes, Lionel Messi will be remembered as one of the greatest players to have ever graced the game, and he still has plenty more to offer in Catalonia. He’s ably assisted by energetic Uruguayan Luis Suarez, and the pair make a formidable duo, although the Blaugrana will surely need to start looking towards the next generation.
At the back, they are strongly linked with a move for Ajax’s Matthijs De Ligt, who at 19-years old looks to be the right profile for the club, whilst Luka Jovic has also been catching the eye in the Bundesliga.
The primary concern for Barca fans appears to be the lack of young talent emerging from La Masia. The famed academy has produced a litany of future stars, with the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Carlos Puyol all gaining their footballing education at La Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper. Marc Cucurella looks a natural successor to Jordi Alba, whilst Oriol Busquets looks to have the perfect temperament to be a success at the Nou Camp, but the next Lionel Messi has yet to be unearthed.
During the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, Lionel Messi played 110 games for Barcelona.— FourFourTweet (@FourFourTweet) March 30, 2019
He scored 133 goals and provided 44 assists.
That’s 177 goal contributions in 110 games.
In 2012, he scored 91 goals. 91… pic.twitter.com/2S4poIoYTz
Many journalists have speculated about the reasons for Real Madrid’s notable decline in 2019, but realistically, there are a number of factors that have contributed to their failure to progress beyond the last eight of the Champions League.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure left a huge void in the squad, and the club failed to secure a ready-made replacement for the Portuguese maverick. The club need to build their team around a talisman, and if they are able to secure the services of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard this summer, that could be the catalyst for progress next year. The Belgian has just turned 28 years old, and is likely to give the European heavyweights at least five years of continued service, should he sign. The former Lille man looks like the kind of player who could flourish in La Liga, and he’s previously admitted to idolising Zinedine Zidane.
Vinicius certainly looks one for the future, and he should be able to progress significantly over the next twelve months.
The 13-time European champions need to complete a summer clear-out before they can start adding to their squad, but this will be a pivotal summer for the club, and they must get things right ahead of a pivotal 2019-2020 campaign.
Both Barcelona and Real Madrid could be accused of having an over-reliance on their superstars over the past decade, but both clubs must begin to plan for the future. Although it’s been a barren few years for the Barca academy, there appears to be a decent crop of youngsters bubbling under the surface. However, this is the most important summer in many years for Real Madrid, and it is imperative that they make the right signings once the transfer window swings open. If Zidane can add Eden Hazard to his squad in 2019, the club will have a talisman who can they build a side around, and it shouldn’t be long before they are lifting the UEFA Champions League trophy once again.