Rosell has destroyed this club – Jose Enrique takes aim at former Barcelona president

By Sports Desk October 13, 2021

Ex-Liverpool left-back Jose Enrique claims that former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has "destroyed" the Catalan club.

Barca find themselves in difficult financial circumstances, with six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi forced to join Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer after the Blaugrana were unable to provide him with a new contract.

The Blaugrana have won just one trophy – a Copa del Rey – in the last two seasons and have not started their first campaign without Messi in 16 years well, sitting bottom of their Champions League group and winning just three of their first seven LaLiga games.

Jose Enrique believes the dramatic decline of a once-formidable club is down to a string of poor decisions from the hierarchy and points the finger primarily at Rosell, who served as Barca president from 2010 to 2014.

"Well, I think, with a completely open heart and honestly, I think Sandro Rosell has just destroyed this club," Jose Enrique told Stats Perform. 

"It is destroyed, economy-wise. [New Barca president Joan] Laporta is obviously taking everything now because obviously, it's anyone and everyone asking him for answers. But it's true that he arrives to a club that is very, very in debt with a lot of players on a lot of money."

 

The one-time Liverpool and Newcastle United defender was particularly scathing about Barca's activity in the transfer market over the last few years under the presidency of Josep Maria Bartomeu, who replaced Rosell in 2014 before stepping down in 2020.

"[Luis] Suarez, look what they did to him," Jose Enrique continued. "You sign [Antoine] Griezmann who really is not even half of the player that Suarez is. That's what it is. So, they do a lot of strange things.

"They go out and buy [Ousmane] Dembele for 100 million. They do a lot of stuff. I remember when they signed [Philippe] Coutinho, and I love Coutinho. But they play him as a left winger as well. When actually, he's more a midfielder or number 10.

"So, they've been doing so many things wrong for many years, and now they are taking [the consequences]. They lose Messi, who obviously is the standout player of this club. He was, he’s not anymore.

"Now they are struggling, and I believe to get back to their best is gonna take a while. I don't know how long, depends on their spending, depends how much income they have, because obviously, they have to get rid of a lot of players.

"Again, for example, [Miralem] Pjanic. When they signed Pjanic, they [sent] away Arthur Melo and you're giving away the player that Messi actually says is the closest player he's seen to Xavi. And that he's 23, and you take Pjanic who is 30.

"It's a strange thing, and you have to say, "why are these things happening?"

"Obviously, I don't want to blame anyone, but I'm sure there's been things behind [the scenes] that are still being discovered.

"When the club is struggling it is because something is going wrong behind [the scenes], that’s reality. And that's why Barcelona is in the situation it is right now because they've been doing things wrong. Simple as that."

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    It was the day before the start of the 2017-18 season, and Liverpool's campaign already felt like it had been thrown into chaos.

    Jurgen Klopp was getting ready for a trip to Watford when news broke that his star man Philippe Coutinho had handed in a transfer request, supposedly after the Reds had rejected a £90million bid from Barcelona.

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    The Brazilian was ultimately forced to stay until the January transfer window when he eventually sealed his dream move to the Camp Nou for a deal that, with add-ons, would amount to around £142million, a record for the Catalan club.

    To his credit, Coutinho got his head down after the disappointment of being denied a move in the summer of 2017, playing 20 more games for Liverpool in the first half of the campaign, scoring 12 goals and registering eight assists.

    His numbers were up there with the rest of what remains to this day Liverpool's main front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, but back then he was part of what was briefly known as 'The Fab Four'. His minutes-per-goal record (one every 125.67 minutes) was second only to Salah (94.68) among those with one than one appearance, while he created more chances than anyone else (56).

    He did miss a few more games closer to the January transfer window through more apparent back issues, but scored one final screamer at Anfield against Swansea City in his last game for the club, coincidentally the same team he had scored his first Reds goal against in February 2013 after arriving from Inter Milan for just £8.5million.

    In his five years on Merseyside, Coutinho won the hearts of the Kop with his skill, his effort and increasingly, his end product, bagging 54 goals and 43 assists in 201 games for the club.

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    Bavarian adventure

    Despite progress not running smoothly for Coutinho, it was still a surprise for many to see Barca agree to loan him to Bayern Munich the following season. Antoine Griezmann had been signed from Atletico Madrid, which would have limited Coutinho's Camp Nou game time, so the hope was either that he would rediscover peak form in Germany, or at least do well enough that Barca could make some of their money back with a future transfer.

    He showed marginally more of his former self, scoring 11 and assisting nine in 38 appearances, albeit only 22 games from the start, while creating 50 chances, and 11 big chances. But it was difficult to stand out much in a team that included Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski.

    Never one to miss out on ironic Champions League moments, Coutinho came off the bench to score the final two goals of an 8-2 thrashing of his parent club in the quarter-finals.

    He ended that season with a Champions League winner's medal, as well as winning the Bundesliga title and DFB-Pokal in an impressive treble, but Bayern decided against signing Coutinho permanently.

    One last shot

    Under Ronald Koeman, Coutinho was determined to finally make a success of his career back at Barcelona, and showed glimpses in the 14 games he managed in the 2020-21 season before injury struck as he suffered a torn meniscus, ending his campaign before the new year.

    It seemed one of the transfer market's worst kept secrets that Barca were open to selling Coutinho at the end of that season, among several other players, as financial woes mounted at the club, but there were understandably no takers given his form and injury issues.

    Both parties were left with no choice but to try again this season, and while he has been given chances, they have been sporadic, with just five starts and nine substitute appearances so far, registering two goals. Coutinho has yet to provide an assist, and he has only created two chances.

    Xavi is now in the hot seat at the Camp Nou, pledging to return a struggling team to the "Barca way", and he opened the door for Coutinho to perhaps have one last shot of establishing himself.

    "Coutinho is someone who can play in various positions, and he can be important for the team," Xavi told reporters ahead of his first match in charge against Espanyol.

    "He needs to re-find himself and recover his confidence. If he does, he will help us a lot. He has an innate talent. It depends on him. He will get chances because he's a player I like personally. It's more psychological than anything because he has talent."

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    4 - Since losing their first ever meeting with Dynamo Kiev in European competition (0-1 in November 1991), Benfica are unbeaten in four games against the Ukrainian side (W3 D1), with all four coming in the European Cup/Champions League.

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    5 - Wolfsburg have gone unbeaten in their last five games against French opponents in European competition (W2 D3) after previously going eight games without recording a victory against French teams across all competitions (D3 L5).

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