After everything that has happened in recent weeks at Barcelona, Ronald Koeman’s friend, Lluis Canut, would come up with a controversial way of examining things. He believes Xavi Hernandez wouldn’t have been a leader on his return to the club if Lionel Messi was still around. What Canut probably didn’t pay attention to is the fact that there is a difference between a coach and a team leader on the pitch. At the moment, Barcelona truly don’t have a leader on the pitch.
In the summer, Messi left Barcelona in a heartbreaking way. The Argentine had to leave unexpectedly without a specific successor. So he only had to drop his leadership baton which no player has picked up till now. With Xavi as the new coach, there will be a need to find the player who can be the focal point of the Catalans on the pitch; a decisive player who can guide the team to success and make opponents get worried again.
Ansu Fati is apparently the first player that comes to mind. He already decided to wear the Argentine’s iconic jersey. Leaders of the club in recent decades wore that shirt. The 19-year old proved himself to be a competent goalscorer. But he seems too young to take the role of a leader.
Other Names on the list
There is also Ousmane Dembele who, till this moment, has been prevented by injury from giving his best at Barcelona. A fully fit and in form Dembele would excel as the team’s talisman due to his talent and the qualities he possesses. Apart from not being a reliable goalscorer, he has all other features that can make him destabilize any defence. Yet, his fragility and inconsistency may not make him a dependable leader at the club.
Other players who have been expected to take over from Messi are Memphis Depay and Frenkie de Jong. While the striker has put in a decent performance since his arrival, his compatriot has declined this season. Depay has what it takes to be the new leader in the team but he has also been inconsistent. De Jong, on the other hand, has lost the confidence and leadership qualities he showed last season.
Nevertheless, there is one experienced player who will likely lead the team in the next few seasons. That before another talisman takes responsibility. This experienced player is the 33-year old Sergio Busquets. The defensive midfielder is the backbone of the Spanish national team and Xavi will try to make him replicate that form at Barcelona. Xavi may decide to build the team around him as there is no current player in the squad that can lead the team like him.
There have always been two leaders at Barcelona in matches, the coach and the team’s talisman. And just like Canut has said, Xavi has come to the club at a moment when there is no recognized leader in the team. But if there is one player who can lead the team now after Messi, it is definitely Busquets.