Bartomeu out: Departing Barca president's dismal final year

By Sports Desk October 27, 2020

Josep Maria Bartomeu has resigned as president of Barcelona, with the whole board stepping down with immediate effect ahead of a proposed vote of no confidence. 

Bartomeu announced his decision on Tuesday, a day before Barca – under the tutelage of the outgoing president's final coaching appointment in Ronald Koeman – take on Juventus in the Champions League. 

It brings to an end a six-year reign for the 57-year-old, who had insisted only on Monday that there was no reason to resign from his position. 

Barca won the treble in Bartomeu's first year in charge, yet things gradually began to unravel over the course of his tenure. 

Successive Champions League capitulations to Roma and then Liverpool signalled the beginning of the end during what was a tumultuous final year for Bartomeu.

May 2019: Anfield nightmare

Barca – who had collapsed at Roma in the previous season's quarter-finals – had a 3-0 advantage as they arrived at Anfield to complete the Champions League semi-final. 

Liverpool were without forward duo Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino too, yet the Reds stormed to a 4-0 triumph, making Barca the first team since Gothenburg in 1986 to lose a semi-final having held a three-goal first-leg advantage. 

January 2020: Valverde out, Setien in

Having led Barca to successive LaLiga titles, Ernesto Valverde survived the capitulation at Anfield but a poor run of form that culminated in a defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana marked the end of his tenure. 

With then-Netherlands boss Koeman reportedly an option, Barca - who had spent big on Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann - were turned down by club legend Xavi, so Bartomeu opted instead for the experience of former Real Betis boss Quique Setien, a somewhat surprising appointment.

August 2020: Humiliation in Lisbon

Setien managed six victories from his opening eight LaLiga matches, though Barca went down 2-0 to Real Madrid. However, an 18-point haul was enough to propel them to top of the table when the coronavirus pandemic caused the suspension of football across Europe. 

Yet Barca, who had dropped out of the Copa del Rey in February, drew with Sevilla, Celta Vigo and Atletico Madrid upon the resumption, then lost to Osasuna at home to gift rivals Real Madrid the title. 

It meant Barca headed into their Champions League quarter-final tie with Bayern Munich in Lisbon knowing they had just one shot at silverware, though what followed was one of the most humiliating moments in the club's illustrious history. 

Bayern crushed Barca 8-2 on their way to lifting the trophy, the on-loan Philippe Coutinho scoring two of the goals in the rout of his parent club, and Setien's spell was over.

August and September 2020: Koeman takes charge, Messi wants out 

Having missed out to Setien previously, Camp Nou legend Koeman finally landed his dream job. However, the ink on the Dutchman's contract was barely dry by the time reports emerged that superstar Lionel Messi wanted to leave the club. 

Barca subsequently confirmed that Messi had asked to be released from his contract, with the 33-year-old citing a clause in his contract which would allow him to leave for free, rather than for his €700 million buyout clause. 

After much speculation, however, Messi confirmed on September 4 that he would remain with Barca for the final year of his contract, though he criticised how the club had been run and reiterated his dissatisfaction of Bartomeu's leadership. 

October 2020: Bartomeu resigns 

A 3-1 Clasico defeat to Madrid in front of an empty Camp Nou was the final game of the Bartomeu era. The rest of Barca's board also resigned too - it now remains to be seen where the club go next. 

He did not go quietly, though. Announcing his decision during a speech that did not allow any chance for questions from the media, Bartomeu revealed Barcelona had accepted an invitation to join a proposed new European Super League. 

"The European Super League will make it so the club can remain being one of the members," the outgoing president said.

Related items

  • Fred red card 'nowhere near a foul', says Solskjaer Fred red card 'nowhere near a foul', says Solskjaer

    Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer felt Fred's tackle that saw him sent off was "nowhere near a foul" but said the midfielder may have been lucky earlier.

    Fred was sent off in the second half of United's 3-1 Champions League loss at home to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.

    The Brazilian was booked in the first half for an apparent headbutt on Leandro Paredes, before getting his second yellow card after appearing to win the ball ahead of Ander Herrera.

    Fred conceded four fouls but his eight possessions gained were the equal most at Old Trafford despite seeing red with 20 minutes remaining.

    Solskjaer lamented the decision that saw the midfielder sent off, although admitted he may have been fortunate earlier.

    "We spoke to him at half-time – and be sensible – and I thought he was. I thought he played really well," he told a news conference.

    "I thought he was very, very sensible in the second half and he covers the ground, he gets up to men without trying to tackle. The ball that he actually gets a yellow card for though, the tackle, that's nowhere near a foul. So, if you see that again, that's a mistake by the referee.

    "But that's also human error, it's allowed. You can't, I can't sit there and complain about that now. I thought Fred was unlucky there, but he was probably lucky enough to come off for the first half."

    Neymar's brace and Marquinhos' goal was enough to move PSG onto nine points, alongside United and RB Leipzig, in Group H.

    Marcus Rashford had equalised for United in the first half, becoming the first player to score in all three home games for the club in a single group stage in the Champions League since Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2004-05.

    Solskjaer was pleased with the forward, who has scored more goals in five Champions League games this season (six) than he managed in 18 appearances in the competition across his previous two campaigns.

    "He's really taken to that role really well. And he's certainly giving us threat down the side, penetration, crosses, finishes. I've been very pleased with Marcus on there," he said.

    "I know sometimes a right-footed striker would like to play on the left to come inside and score goals, but he's proving very efficient from the right side as well.

    "And through the middle, he's played through the middle this season, as well, really well. So he's developing really well into the top forward for us."

    Rashford was substituted with 16 minutes remaining and Solskjaer revealed the England international is struggling with a shoulder problem ahead of Saturday's Premier League trip to West Ham.

    "It's just niggling him, that shoulder injury," Solskjaer told BT Sport. "Let's see how quickly he can recover. Let's hope he can be ready for the West Ham game. But we don't know."

  • Neymar: I didn't join PSG to play in Europa League Neymar: I didn't join PSG to play in Europa League

    Neymar insisted he did not leave Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain to play in the Europa League after boosting the club's Champions League qualification hopes on Wednesday.

    PSG are in control of their own destiny thanks to a Neymar-inspired 3-1 victory over 10-man Manchester United at Old Trafford midweek.

    United only required a draw to progress to the last 16, but their passage to the knockout stage was put on hold after Neymar's double and a Marquinhos goal threw Group H wide open heading into the final matchday.

    PSG, United and RB Leipzig are all level on nine points through five matches, with the Ligue 1 champions – who reached last season's final – only needing a draw against Istanbul Basaksehir next week to secure a round-of-16 berth.

    "That is why I said that we needed to change attitude or else we could forget about our Champions League dream," Neymar, who joined PSG in a world-record €222million deal in 2017 after winning the Champions League with Barca, told Eleven Sports.

    "But we have changed. And today our dream has more life in it. Of course, I have never been eliminated in the Champions League [group stage] or played in the Europa League.

    "That never crossed my mind and it never well. When these difficult moments come, I am able to evolve and take my responsibilities. I did not come here to play in the Europa League."

    Neymar opened the scoring inside six minutes away to United before Marcus Rashford scored in his third successive Champions League appearance against PSG.

    After Anthony Martial wasted a gilt-edged opportunity and former PSG forward Edinson Cavani rattled the crossbar, it all went pear-shaped for United – who watched Marquinhos bundle the ball over the line with 21 minutes remaining and saw Fred receive a second yellow card moments later.

    Neymar added gloss to the scoreline in the first minute of stoppage time and he said: "I have always felt like a leader, since I was 17, I have never needed to have an armband to feel that way. Today, I am a figure at PSG.

    "Everything that I can do on the pitch has an impact on my team-mates and what I want, is to help them, to give the best of myself. I am a very annoying guy on the pitch, I follow up a lot with my team-mates, but I am also ready to accept criticism, about myself too.

    "I am not untouchable. Everyone is fighting for the same thing. I am very happy to be able to help my team-mates."

    PSG have won both of their last two away matches against English opposition in all competitions (both versus United) – they had only won one of their first 10 such visits prior (drawn four and lost five).

    Since his Champions League debut in 2013, only Cristiano Ronaldo (79), Robert Lewandowski (60) and Lionel Messi (59) have more goals in the competition than Neymar (38).

    Neymar's double in Manchester was the Brazilian's first goals in his six Champions League games away to English sides.

    PSG head coach Tuchel added: "Neymar was again decisive. He is not 100 per cent but he is decisive.

    "Marquinhos was also decisive. These two players were already decisive for us in Portugal. They are leaders, they take responsibility when necessary. Congratulations to both players!"

  • 'Nearly pregnant is not being pregnant' – Tuchel urges calm after PSG top Man Utd 'Nearly pregnant is not being pregnant' – Tuchel urges calm after PSG top Man Utd

    Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel insisted the French giants have not achieved anything after boosting their Champions League qualification hopes by defeating Manchester United 3-1.

    A Neymar brace and Marquinhos' goal placed United's last-16 progression on hold, while putting last season's runners-up PSG in control of their own destiny heading into the sixth and final matchday in Group H.

    Neymar opened the scoring inside six minutes at Old Trafford on Wednesday before United star Marcus Rashford scored in his third successive Champions League appearance against PSG.

    After Anthony Martial wasted a gilt-edged opportunity and former PSG forward Edinson Cavani rattled the crossbar, it all went pear-shaped for United – who watched Marquinhos bundle the ball over the line with 21 minutes remaining and saw Fred receive a second yellow card moments later.

    Neymar added gloss to the scoreline in the first minute of stoppage time as PSG joined United and RB Leipzig on nine points with one fixture remaining – Tuchel's side only require a draw against Istanbul Basaksehir to secure a place in the knockout stages.

    But Tuchel urged calm post-match, telling RMC Sport: "Nearly qualified, is not qualified. Nearly pregnant, is not being pregnant. That does not exist, I am not going to let a single guy think that everything has been done.

    "We have made a big step forward but I am not going to let a single guy think that we are already qualified.

    "We need to make the last step and for that, we will need to play with the same mentality, the same fire and the same spirit."

    PSG have won both of their last two away matches against English opposition in all competitions (both versus United) – they had only won one of their first 10 such visits prior (drawn four and lost five).

    Since his Champions League debut in 2013, only Cristiano Ronaldo (79), Robert Lewandowski (60) and Lionel Messi (59) have more goals in the competition than Neymar (38).

    Neymar's double in Manchester was the Brazilian's first goals in his six Champions League games away to English sides.

    "We can be proud tonight," PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi told RMC Sport. "We showed the real PSG, a real team who is fighting for the Champions League. It was important for us, this was a decisive match.

    "We needed to show that we are always present in the big moments. I am proud of my players. It was difficult, it was a match that everyone wanted to win, I think that we created goals.

    "Now we need to continue, we are not yet qualified, that is our aim. We also have the Ligue 1 match with Montpellier."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.