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Brennan's Brief The fall and fall of Barcelona since Pep Guardiola's golden team

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Guardiola is not getting carried away by City’s run of form (Nick Potts/PA)

Guardiola is not getting carried away by City’s run of form (Nick Potts/PA)

Guardiola is not getting carried away by City’s run of form (Nick Potts/PA)

It is often thrown at Pep Guardiola that he has failed to lead a club to the Champions League title ever since he left Barcelona in 2012.

Equally it can be thrown at the club that, for all the gifted players the Catalans possessed and still possess, they have won only the 2015 Champions League since Guardiola went on his way.

They won’t be winning this season’s European showpiece either, judging by their tame 4-1 home defeat by PSG on Tuesday night in the first leg of the Round of 16.

It’s not just that the era of Lionel Messi is easing to an end, a whole era of Barca majesty in Spanish and European football could be about to hit the buffers.

You see the issue is that to keep Gerard Pique and Xavi and Iniesta and Carlos Puyol and Luis Suarez and all the rest for as long as they did, but above all to keep Messi, Barcelona paid out some serious salaries every month.

Money that they could justify as long as they were winning things and as long as the massive Camp Nou stadium in the heart of the city was bringing in millions of Euro every time Barcelona played at home.

That hasn’t been happening for a year now and Barca are in trouble, owing their banks huge sums.

Barcelona pocketed a windfall a few years ago when they sold Neymar to PSG for over €220million. Unlike Real Madrid, who when they got big money for selling their city-centre training ground, paid off their debts, the Barcelona ‘brains trust’ spent that money on players like Phillippe Coutinho (Liverpool) and Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid) who haven’t justified their massive transfer fees.

Such was the bad planning of a few years ago, Liverpool have a ‘clawback’ clause in the Coutinho deal whereby they get some money if Barcelona ever sell him on. Right now, they might have to GIVE him back to Liverpool, that’s if the Scousers would be willing to take him.

Where Barcelona floundered, Liverpool used the money they go to buy Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, who helped them win the Champions League and Premier League, while Atletico bought enough good players to be top of La Liga right now, well ahead of Barcelona.

Maybe when club legend Xavi comes in as manager, as he will do once the club’s Presidential elections are over, he will turn this around.

But one of Europe’s great clubs, who thrilled football lovers for the last two decades, is looking at a grim short-term future.

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