Why Xavi must focus on winning the Europa League with Barcelona this season
The Catalans drop out of the Champions League Group Stage for the first time in 21 years, further adding to their financial woes.
Ex-Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez at Soccerex Asian Forum
Barcelona have had a rough ride so far this season as they crash out of the Champions League Group Stage and sit eighth in the league, 18 points behind leaders Real Madrid. With a poor start to the league campaign and a lot of ground left to make up, it would be fair to suggest that their only realistic target this season would be to finish in a Champions League position.
Barca’s biggest concern is the financial losses they would bear due to an early exit from Europe’s most elite competition. The club’s pre-season budget accounted for the prize money they would have received upon reaching the quarter-finals. However, the Catalans’ early elimination from the competition has cut their funds short, putting a dent in an already weakened financial structure
In failing to qualify for the knockouts, the Spanish giants miss out on 20.2 million euros. Reaching the round of 16 would have guaranteed them a sum of 9.6 million euros, and progressing to the quarters would have added another 10.6 million to their pocket. A loss of over 20 million euros during a cash crunch means that Barca won’t be able to spend big in the upcoming winter transfer window.
Almost halfway into the season, the Blaugranes have managed to win only six of the 16 league games played while drawing six and losing four. Though they’re just five points adrift of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid, it would be a tall order for Xavi’s men to make it into the top four given their poor run of form and with teams like Real Betis and Sevilla eager to give them a run for their money.
Since losses are imminent in the current fiscal year, Barca might look to ship a few star players out to lift some burden off their wage bill and raise some funds for potential signings. If Xavi has plans for a squad overhaul come January, he might need time to blood in the new crop of players, making their top-four pursuit even more challenging.
The situation makes a good Europa League run all the more important for Xavi and co. as winning the tournament would net them a sum of 14.9 million euros. They’d still be making a loss of 5.3 million euros on the current budget, but it will go a long way in mitigating the losses. Though a strong league finish isn’t yet out of reach, the Spaniard would do well to focus on the cup competitions.
Moreover, lifting a trophy would help a relatively inexperienced manager like Xavi to build trust with the board as well as the fans, warrantying him more time and freedom to spearhead the rebuilding process at Barcelona. It would also go a long way in instilling confidence and morale into the squad while reaping the tangible benefits of a Europa League title in prize money and an automatic Champions League qualification– which has to be the top priority for the Catalans to keep the ship afloat.