One day you meet Mino Raiola to talk about signing Erling Haaland, and the next day you wave off Lionel Messi and flog Antoine Griezmann back to the club you bought him from, losing £65million.
Barcelona’s disastrous summer (it was April when Laporta met Raiola) ended on Tuesday evening with the purchase of Sevilla’s third-choice centre-forward Luuk de Jong.
The only consolation was that with the departure of Messi and Griezmann they had shaved about 85 million euros a year from the wage bill.
Antoine Griezmann has been sent back to Atletico Madrid and Barcelona has Luuk de Jong . contracted
Barcelona have already seen Lionel Messi leave this summer to go to Paris Saint-Germain
RB Leipzig also completed the signing of 18-year-old Ilaix Moriba from Barcelona for £14 million
A club that had recently given up €1.3bn (£1.1bn) in debt and a negative net worth of €450m (£387m) could do little else, yet it felt odd to put them in the bargain bin. scurrying around as the lights dimmed and the transfer window closed.
It has been suggested that they will not miss Griezmann.
It is true that he looked lethargic over the weekend and was whistled by some at the Nou Camp. But that state of affairs has only come about because it has been undermined from day one.
Barça won just one trophy – the Copa del Rey – last season and he was their best player in that competition.
Spanish football analyst Fermin Suarez posted his stats on Twitter. He scored 35 goals and provided 16 assists in 102 games. But 19 of his goals were decisive, either being the first in a game or putting Barca back ahead. There were also 106 key passes and he missed just two games due to injury.
Barcelona failed to make his signing work and they have sent him to a rival club.
Not content with helping Atlético to win LaLiga last year, they’ve made them favorites again this time around.
And it wasn’t just Griezmann. Last season, Ilaix Moriba impressed Ronald Koeman so much that he gave the 18-year-old midfielder 14 games. Barca couldn’t do enough to convince him to stay and so he goes to RB Leipzig. And they failed to get rid of their biggest underachieving high earners.
Spanish newspapers reacted to the ‘bomb’ news of Griezmann’s return to the Spanish capital
Griezmann looked lethargic over the weekend and was whistled by some at the Nou Camp
He returns to Atletico Madrid, where he was very successful, to play under Diego Simeone
Samuel Umtiti and Philippe Coutinho were both whistled by supporters during Sunday’s warm-up (Umtiti for no good reason was whistled louder than Coutinho) and they were players Barcelona wanted to go. There were no bids.
The arrival of De Jong on a rental basis was confirmed by the club this morning at 3.30 am local time.
Despite scoring only 10 league goals in two seasons with Sevilla, De Jong did have his moments under Julen Lopetegui.
But this summer Sevilla was promoted to the younger, hungrier and probably more productive Rafa Mir. It is a benchmark where Barcelona stand now that they have taken the rejection of Sevilla.
In any case, Koeman will be happy with another familiar face.
There is always the danger that the team will become ‘too Dutch’. But Koeman has let Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay play as well as other players in LaLiga, so that’s not high on the club’s trouble list at the moment.
More urgent than being another Holland international is that he barely fits the prototype that Barca pushes forward, agile and glove-touched; they lose both their identity and their best players.
Ronald Koeman oversees an incredibly difficult period as Barça lose its stars and identity
The arrival of De Jong means that another Dutch international has arrived under Koeman
Despite all the asset stripping, Koeman still has a decent team left.
With Marc Andre ter Stegen and Neto, he has two good keepers. He is covered at right back by Sergino Dest and Oscar Mingueza. Gerard Pique, Eric Garcia and Ronald Araujo are the best central defenders and Jordi Alba remains left-back.
In midfield, Pedri, Sergio Busquets, Sergio Roberto and Frenkie de Jong are strong and if they both get fit, Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele would form an exciting front three with Memphis Depay.
But Luuk de Jong, Martin Braithwaite and Sergio Aguero (if he ever plays for the club) make for a strange line-up of reserve attackers. And Miralem Pjanic and Riqui Puig, plus the excellent but very inexperienced pair of 17-year-old Gavi and 19-year-old Nico Rodriguez hardly provide power in midfield depth.
Koeman lamented last season that he didn’t have a team to challenge too much – now without Messi and Griezmann it’s a wonder where the season’s goal lies.
The days of striving for a league and Champions League double are temporarily over. It will be all they can do to finish above Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, who have swept them out of the transfer market and now seem to be moving to stronger teams than them.
Barcelona’s problem was not being able to move big earners like Samuel Umtiti (left) and Philippe Coutinho (right) and both were loudly booed by Barcelona supporters this weekend
Sergio Aguero is currently injured but he is part of a strange reserve of attackers this season