Just 16 days before Neymar left, Vice President—— said he was 200% sure that Neymar was going to stay. Days later, Pique ‘confirmed’ saying ‘he stays’. All these brought a wanted calm to the Barcelona camp, but voila, like a thief in the night that has come to destroy, PSG came and took Neymar away making him the most expensive footballer in history and also the highest paid footballer to ever play the game.
This was supposed to mean the end for Barcelona; it was supposed to be the beginning of a downward movement for the side from Catalonia. Although it looked like it, with the heavy defeat they suffered at the hands of their perennial rivals Real Madrid at the super cup. Pique looked on from the bench as a 5-1 rout (over both legs) was completed and admitted after the match that for the first time in his playing career for Barcelona he felt ‘inferior’ to Real Madrid. Barcelona were expected not to be able to compete after such a demoralizing defeat and loss of the one that was supposed to be the ‘heir to the throne’.
But a man, calm, cool and collected was what was just needed to handle one of the most important moments in the club’s history. A bad management at the time would have meant total shambles in every facet of sporting activities for the club, maybe big stars would have wanted out of the club, maybe Lionel Messi would have stopped playing, who knows?. Ernesto Valverde has managed to turn a somewhat difficult situation into unprecedented success. It has to be said that he took charge of Barcelona in one of the most impossible times but has managed to make the void left by Neymar be utilized by Jordi Alba. He has given more space for Jordi to run into and it is no surprise that the Spanish left back is having one of the best seasons of his career. Instead of Ousmane Dembele coming straight In to replace Neymar, he got injured just before he could get started and Ernesto Valverde did not panic at all, he rather balanced the midfield more and put one more pair of legs in the midfield, with Sergio Busquets owning the midfield with the help of vastly improved Rakitic. Andres Iniesta; in just half of the season has already been involved more times than he was last season. The old veteran got revived under Valverde.
For Valverde, bringing in Paulinho from the Chinese super league seemed to be a brilliant deal but many fans didn’t see it that way as Barcelona and their transfer policy was greatly criticized after the purchase and that materialized into actions as Paulinho’s unveiling recorded the least amount of fans to ever witness an unveiling in the Camp Nou stadium.
From all these, one thing is common, Ernesto Valverde was said to be a bad choice, one who would make Barca very boring but instead he has made Barca more efficient in all aspects. He has stood tall despite all odds against him, he is still unbeaten in the league and is 20 points ahead of Madrid (with 2 games In hand) and 10 points ahead of Atletico Madrid ( with a game in hand) and has gone on to equal Pep Guardiola’s unbeaten record for the team.
At the end of everything, treble or not, Ernesto Valverde will be spoken of as the man that brought a different dynamic to the Barcelona team and is just not living off Messi but also living off his own works.
Written by Salami Adebayo