The story of FC Barcelona over the last 30 years is a fascinating one. Up until that point, they really were truly in the shadow of their fiercest rivals, Real Madrid. It wasn’t until Johan Cruyff, their former player, took charge in the late 1980s, that things began to improve.
Slowly but surely under Cruyff, he got Barcelona back to winning regularly. The 1990s saw them win 5 La Liga titles, as well as their first Champions League. Finally, the fans had something to cheer about when watching their side. Not only that, but they became an incredibly appealing prospect for bettors, as they usually had strong odds in their favour.
Cruyff left in 1998, but the winning didn’t stop. They brought a number of players through their famed youth system, La Masia. Players such as Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi transformed from prospects into superstars. They would be the oddsmakers’ favourites in all betting markets, even when facing strong opposition, both in La Liga and in the Champions League.
It was under Pep Guardiola, their former midfielder when they truly became a phenomenon. With him in charge, they won 3 La Liga titles, 2 Copa del Rey’s, and 2 Champions League titles. They were every bettor’s fantasy, a team that you could bet on and always rely on them to win. For bettors looking to use the BetMGM sportsbook bonus, betting on Barcelona was always seen as a smart move. For years, they continued to have great odds, as even after Guardiola moved on, they won several more La Liga and Champions League titles. It looked like the Barcelona winning machine had no intention of slowing down anytime soon.
How the mighty can fall
Rumours of Barcelona’s poor finances had been bubbling away for a few years. It was known that they were racking up large debts, partly of their astronomically high wage bill (Messi alone was earning over €1 million per week) poor transfer dealings (the high prices they paid for the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele looked like a bad idea at the time, but as both players have continuously underperformed, they look absolutely ludicrous in hindsight) as well as poor business decisions off the pitch.
It all finally came to a head this summer, when Messi (who had previously wanted to move, but was made to honour his contract) couldn’t stay at the club, as they simply couldn’t afford him. Players they had signed (all as free transfers) like Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia weren’t initially allowed to be registered, because of the wage cap La Liga had placed on them. Antoine Greizmann, who cost €120 million, was allowed to go back on loan to his old club. While Atletico Madrid have to re-sign him at the end of the year, they can do so for just €40 million, just to get some cash quickly. There genuinely were odds in some betting markets that the team might end up bankrupt.
All change at the top
Part of the reason that Messi wanted to leave was because of his relationship, or lack thereof, with the president of Barcelona, Josep Bartomeu. He then left the club, being replaced by Joan Laporta. Not only that, but the manager Ronald Koeman lost his job, being replaced by former midfielder Xavi. Suddenly, things started to look a bit brighter at the club,
Transfers on the horizon?
Given how bad their financial state was, most bettors would’ve placed bets on Barcelona not being able to make any transfers for several seasons. However, the club are adamant that Xavi will be able to sign players in the January transfer window. Xavi’s former teammate Dani Alves has already re-joined the club, following his exit from Sao Paulo, but who else could they possibly be bringing in?
Given that Aguero is set to retire (having barely played for Barcelona since signing for them) they’ll need to bring another forward in. The strong rumours are Ferran Torres, currently at Manchester City, should be joining them in January. It seems strange given that, prior to an injury, he seemed to be getting a good run in the side, but apparently Torres is very open to the move back to his native Spain. Few would turn down the chance to lead the Barcelona front line. This, more than any other transfer, has got bettors looking at the odds to see how likely it could be.
Another player who could be joining the Catalan club is Cesar Azpilicueta. He is yet to sign a contract extension at Chelsea, and given Barcelona could snap him up for relatively cheap, it is a signing that makes a great deal of sense.
Other names have been flying around, like Edison Cavani, Raheem Sterling and Andre Onana. Could these happen? Quite possibly. Surely some of the deadwood, like Coutinho and Dembele would have to be cut adrift first, but we could soon be seeing an all-new Barcelona