Last season, the Catalans had a mixed bag of results. Barcelona went on to win the Copa del Rey in Ronald Koeman's first season in command. However, the disappointment of finishing outside the top two in La Liga and losing in the Champions League to PSG overcame the cup victory. Moreover, with the start of the 2021/22 season only a few weeks away, preparations for the new season are in full swing.
In addition, Barcelona has had to rely on Lionel Messi to lead their assault for trophies year after year. However, the Argentina captain has yet to re-sign with the Catalans after his contract expired. Even though the contract extension is set to be completed, the global superstar, at 34, is no longer able to carry the burden alone.
So, in the upcoming season, Barcelona will need some of their other elite players to step up and do so in a big way. And here are three players that will almost certainly determine how the Blaugrana season unfolds.
The very first player out of 3 is Ansu fati
How Ansu Fati started the previous season following his amazing breakout in 2019-20 just strengthened the opinion that the teenager had a special talent who can evolve into a great player for Barcelona. Moreover, as luck would have it, after a fantastic debut season in 2019/20, the sky seemed the limit for young Ansu Fati. However, just as the teenager was soaring high, he was brought crashing down by a devastating knee injury.
Adding further, the concern now was how things would turn out for him once Ansu fati returned from his recovery, which could have a significant impact on Barcelona's chances. The 18-year-old, however, has undergone three surgeries to correct the problem and is slated to return in mid-September. Also, Fati's ability to hit the ground running when he returns is crucial for Barcelona.
Frenkie de Jong's version was shown to the audience. After a mediocre first season at Camp Nou, the club spent a lot of money to sign him for the 2020/21 season. Moreover, with some brilliant displays in midfield and, surprise, at the heart of the three-man defense, the Netherlands international stole the show.
However, as the former AFC Ajax player stated earlier this summer, he has more to offer. That is something that manager Ronald Koeman agrees with, having challenged his countrymen to improve his goal-scoring in the coming season. In addition, last season, De Jong impressed out for his driving runs and ability to flawlessly move the ball.
However, as Sergio Busquets approaches the end of his career, the Dutchman will have to assume the role of midfield captain, guiding youthful talents such as Pedri, Ilaix Moriba, and Nico Gonzalez.
While Griezmann improved towards the end of the season, he still finished 17 goals short of Messi's 30 in La Liga, with no other player reaching double figures. This is where Memphis Depay's signing comes into play. Moreover, while he has his critics, the Dutchman is undeniably an improvement over Martin Braithwaite and, to a lesser extent, Ousmane Dembele, having put up solid figures with Olympique Lyon in recent seasons.
Additionally, as previously said, with Griezmann's current predicament and Dembele's injury, as well as Sergio Aguero's own fitness difficulties, the Dutchman will play a key part for Barcelona in the 2021/22 season. Moreover, Koeman has a little more tactical flexibility given Depay's versatility when it comes to offensive possibilities.