Barcelona legend Xavi has hit out at the club's summer transfer business, claiming that the Catalan giants have 'gone to sleep' after becoming complacent following years of success.
Brazil star Neymar, the assumed heir to Lionel Messi's throne at the Nou Camp, was snatched away in a world record move by Paris Saint-Germain this summer, leaving the board scrabbling around desperately to give new manager Ernesto Valverde a squad of sufficient quality to challenge Real Madrid in La Liga.
Speaking to Marca this week, he said: "I was part of an era that was so impressive that it now seems as if it's not the same. They play football well, but they could have signed better. They have fallen asleep because five or six years ago they had the best players in the world for the Barcelona system.
"Now they have five or six players for it, in [Andres] Iniesta, [Jordi] Alba, [Lionel] Messi, [Gerard] Pique, Luis Suarez and [Sergio] Busquets. Yet Barcelona should have 11 players who fit the system. You never used to say "this player would fit in well at Barcelona" because all those players were already there. They have signed players who do not fit the system."
He also hit out at the lack of strengthening of the famous Barcelona youth system, adding: "They turn to it, but starting players from the academy is another thing. You need to strengthen it. Whenever there is a moment of doubt, you should turn to what you have in-house.
Midfielders signed since Xavi left in 2015:— El Máestro (@ElMaestrofcb) September 1, 2017
2015: Arda 42m
2016: Gomes 55m
2017: Paulinho 40m
From bad to worse.Downgrade year after year.
"During the best Barcelona era they nourished at least 60 percent of the youth teamers. Thiago, for example, left, as was his right, because they were not giving him opportunities. Yet everyone should be patient as it's the most difficult team in the world [to break in to]."