By 90Min
May 08, 2019

Lightning does strike twice, at least if you're a supporter of one of the most illustrious clubs in world football.

Barcelona were stunned by an outrageous Liverpool fightback in the second leg of their Champions League semi final on Tuesday night, Jurgen Klopp's warriors clawing back a three-goal deficit from their first meeting in Catalonia to progress to the tournament's showpiece event.

A brace apiece for Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum ensured that Barça suffered a repeat of their European exit last campaign, the La Liga giants having let an equally healthy lead slip in the quarters against Roma 11 months ago. Their squad is teeming with individuals who have served their purpose and are past their best; a minor rebuild is required following those successive collapses.

Here are the players La Blaugrana need to let go of if they hope to bring 'Old Big Ears' to the Nou Camp next year.


Luis Suarez

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In his prime, Suarez was one of the most feared strikers on Earth, terrorising Premier League defences during his time at Liverpool. Unfortunately for the Uruguayan, he is no longer the fleet-footed, slippery trickster he once was.

Yes, he grabbed a delightful opener in the first leg against his old side, but that was his first in the competition this term. Sadly, the 31-year-old has been on a steady decline for much of his career in Spain. His stamina has taken a sizeable hit, his once-frightening acceleration has faded, and he is simply not the threat he once was. A younger, fitter replacement is needed.


Malcom 

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Malcom's controversial decision to join Barcelona - hours after seemingly completing a switch to Roma - has not paid off for him or the club. A mere three Champions League appearances, plus 18 in domestic competition, demonstrates his struggle for game-time in red and blue this year.

Having made such little impact since moving from Bordeaux, his current employers should sanction his sale this summer to avoid a drop in value. With a scoring rate of less than a goal every five games in such a rampant team, this a forward who is simply not up to standard.


Thomas Vermaelen

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Vermaelen's contract expires in June and Ernesto Valverde would do well to let it stay that way. He has featured in a grand total of 12 games this season after being plagued by injuries, that tally continuing a concerning trend for the Belgian.

In the five years since Vermaelen was lured away from Arsenal, he has played only 53 matches and suffered a truly remarkable 19 different injuries. It's no doubt cruel, as he is not at fault for his body failing him. However, this is a cut-throat, professional arena and the centre back is deadwood.


Ivan Rakitic 

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This one may seem rather strange and something of a knee-jerk reaction to the nightmare at Anfield, but Rakitic's splendid spell at Barcelona should end while he is still a heroic figure at the club. 

There was plenty of endeavour and impetus from the Croatian international during the opening period on Merseyside, helping to tame a ferocious Reds backlash. Regrettably, he was a ghost after the break, finding himself totally overwhelmed by Liverpool's passion and energy.

He may be one of Valverde's chief orchestrators, but those playmaking boots are ready to be filled by the significantly younger and wonderfully talented Arthur. If the latter is given the time to develop in the Barça engine room, he could blossom into an elite midfield maestro.


Philippe Coutinho

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Tuesday's calamity may have been the final nail in Coutinho's Catalan coffin. Hounded and condemned by a section of the Nou Camp faithful in recent times, the Brazilian's anonymous showing against Klopp's cohort will do nothing to improve his reputation amongst fans.


'More than a club' is the motto at Barcelona, a team that prides itself on having a familial relationship with its supporters. Coutinho tarnished that with his petulant, mocking celebration against Manchester United in April.


The former Premier League superstar has dug himself a hole that he will have difficulty clambering out of and he is not performing to a high enough level to justify keeping such a divisive individual in the squad; it would be best for all parties if he departs.


Kevin-Prince Boateng

Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/GettyImages

The loan signing of Boateng from Serie A outfit Sassuolo over the winter raised a fair few eyebrows, though the deal was struck in earnest to bolster the Blaugrana attack. There is an option to make the move permanent for €8m in the summer, but that is not an advisable course of action for Valverde to take.


The Spaniard is evidently not too keen on Boateng, selecting the midfielder-turned-striker for only four games. The money saved would serve a more worthwhile purpose, such as bringing in an exciting young prospect with bags of potential. At 32 years-of-age and looking a shadow of his former self, Boateng will only regress from here.

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