Football Features

Why Barcelona fans want Josep Bartomeu to resign

By Squawka News

Published: 18:48, 17 September 2020

Josep María Bartomeu is odds-on to be ousted as Barcelona president at the next elections in March 2021. Watch the video at the top of the article to find out why Barcelona fans want that to happen.

Bartomeu’s last few years in post will be viewed mainly negatively by fans because of how he has overseen the club’s transfer business, the appointments he has made and his handling of the Lionel Messi situation.

Rather than focusing on developing Barça’s famed youth system, La Masia, to supply the first team with talent, Barcelona signed marquee players at sky-high prices.

Most expensive Barcelona signings under Josep Bartomeu:

€160m – Philippe Coutinho
€120m – Antoine Griezmann
€105m – Ousmane Dembélé
€82m – Luis Suárez
€75m – Frenkie De Jong

Ousmane Dembélé, Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann all signed for nine-figure transfer fees, but none have proved to be worth those values so far at the Camp Nou.

These astronomical fees and salaries have forced Bartomeu to cut very unorthodox deals with other clubs, such as the Neto – Jasper Cillessen trade with Valencia, or more recently, letting Arthur Melo go to Juventus, with 30-year-old Miralem Pjanic moving the other way. Balancing the books and presenting economic profit has come ahead of improving the team.

Add to that, the strange signing of Martin Braithwaite from Leganés outside the transfer window. A quirk of the rules enabled Barça to find a replacement for the injured Dembélé as he was ruled out for the season, but only from another Spanish club – however, paying Braithwaite’s 18m-Euro release clause was not a move to capture the culés’ imagination.

And there’s more – the board have overseen questionable acquisitions, particularly of Brazilians such as Douglas, Paulinho, Matheus Fernandes, Matheus Pereira, Gabriel Novaes, Emerson or recently, Gustavo Maia. Most of these players have never even set foot inside the Camp Nou and in fact often fade into oblivion, despite representing a significant outlay.

The scramble for Braithwaite was the work of Eric Abidal, appointed director of football in June 2018, who in January had failed to find his then-new boss Quique Setién a striker.

Barcelona first-team signings under Eric Abidal:

€120m – Antoine Griezmann
€75m – Frenkie De Jong
€18m – Júnior Firpo
€26m – Neto
€18m – Martin Braithwaite
€65m – Miralem Pjanić
€31m – Francisco Trincão
€7m – Matheus Fernandes
€12m – Emerson
€6m – Pedri

€40m – Arthur Melo
€40m – Malcom
€36m – Clement Lenglet
€18m – Arturo Vidal
€1m – Jean-Clair Todibo
Loan – Kevin Prince Boateng
Loan – Jeison Murillo

Just a couple of weeks after getting the Dane in, Abidal accused the first-team squad of not working hard enough under previous head coach Ernesto Valverde. That declaration drew the ire of Lionel Messi who replied in an Instagram post, effectively telling Abidal to name and shame the lazy players.

The Frenchman lasted just over two years in the role of sporting director. Having been given the onerous task of firing Setién as Barcelona finished five points behind Real Madrid in LaLiga’s title race, he was then fired himself in August 2020.

Back to Bartomeu, though. Already one of the most unpopular presidents in recent times, he further enraged Barça fans by waging a very public and unsavoury war with Messi over his future, after the club’s all-time record goalscorer decided he had had enough and wanted to leave.

Top Barcelona release clauses:

€800m – Antoine Griezmann
€700m – Lionel Messi
€500m – Gerard Piqué
€500m – Sergi Roberto
€500m – Samuel Umtiti
€500m – Sergio Busquets
€500m – Franciso Trincão
€500m – Jordi Alba

Despite a gentleman’s agreement that Messi could depart for nothing if he alerted the board with enough notice, the president allowed no extenuating circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic, and instead demanded Messi’s 700m-Euro release clause be paid in full, were he to leave this summer.

With the argument threatening to get legal and therefore messy, it was the diminutive Argentine who decided to be the bigger man and not take it through the courts. An uneasy truce was made, Messi returned to training, Bartomeu remains in post.

But should he survive a vote of no confidence, surely he will depart before Messi does, in March 2021.

Video produced in partnership with Román de Arquer and La Liga Lowdown, your home for Spanish football in English with reporters based in Spain. Find them on Twitter @LaLigaLowdown