April 22, 2021

Barca need to become independent of Messi and experiment with new formations – Ferrer

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The former defender says the club relies on their superstar too much, leading to their La Liga failings this season

Former Barcelona defender Albert Ferrer says that the club is too reliant on Lionel Messi’s brilliance and lacks the depth to truly compete at the top level.

Barcelona failed to win La Liga for only the second time in six seasons as Messi and Co. were beaten to the title by Real Madrid.

The domestic failings come on the heels of several years of continental failures, with notable collapses against Roma and Liverpool sending the club crashing out of the Champions League.

Although Barca remain active in this season’s competition, it has been a campaign where the club’s weaknesses have come to light, even if the magnificent Messi has been able to hide some of those weaknesses.

The forward became the first player in La Liga history to fire at least 20 goals while providing at least 20 assists, with the Barca star finishing on 25 league goals while surpassing Xavi’s record with 21 assists this season.

But Ferrer says that the Argentinian star won’t be able to do that forever, even if the former defender does believe that Messi, who has been linked to Inter in recent weeks, will remain with the club for the rest of his career.

“I’m not too worried about how Leo has been feeling – we expect that because he is a winner,” Ferrer told FourFourTwo.

“He wants to compete for everything, and win the Champions League. I think he will be at Barcelona until he retires. He loves Barcelona, the team, the club.

“It’s a unique situation. No other team can say they depend so much on someone. Barcelona needs to become independent of Leo Messi, but he is still the best, and the moment you give him the ball, he does something with it. 

“It’s a good sign that Barcelona still have Messi, but other players need to play more, so not everything has to go through him. It may be difficult to mark Leo, but sometimes he is surrounded, so you need other ways. 

“Barcelona need to make other players very important too, and do something different to help him. But they have some good options with the likes of Ansu Fati now.” 

While Fati is on the rise, Ferrer says that there is still a lack of true depth in the Barcelona squad, and that lack of depth is what cost them this season.

Barca have been linked with the likes of Lautaro Martinez and Neymar this summer, although Josep Maria Bartomeu says the club will be unable to sign either in the near future.

But Ferrer says that big changes are needed if the club hopes to return to the top of La Liga.

“I think before the lockdown, Barcelona were OK really,” he said. “But I think the squad is a bit short in terms of numbers and they couldn’t really rotate how they desired, maybe.

“In some of the games, there might have been six or seven players from Barcelona B playing, and while they’re very talented, they still lost games and particularly struggled in defence. So depth on the bench was one reason.

“They also tried to play differently, less predictably. But when there is a game every three days, that is difficult – you are just playing for your lives. It was a strange situation. And you have to also say that the run from Real Madrid [at the end] was fantastic.

“Barcelona can never win everything. They’ve won eight of the last 12 titles. Important players have left the club, so it has taken time to adapt.

“I think what they’re trying to do is the right way. They are trying to make a transition and bring some new players in, and bring in some young players from the academy.

“It’s difficult to find players when you’ve got those at the level of Leo and [Sergio] Busquets, but it is true that new players need to come in and improve the tempos and the levels.

“They also maybe need to experiment with formations. Yes, 4-3-3 is the philosophy of Barcelona but I think they should be more open to trying different things within the philosophy. It’s key.”

Barcelona are set to continue their Champions League campaign against Napoli on Saturday.