Barcelona signings like Paulinho do not fit into the team’s system, according to legendary midfielder Xavi.
The Barca icon, who won eight LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns in his glittering Camp Nou career, criticised the club’s work in the transfer market.
As the Spanish window prepares to close on September 1, Barca have lost Brazilian forward Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain after the Ligue 1 giants sensationally triggered his €222million release clause.
With Barca seemingly unable to land further top targets including Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho, the only major arrivals at the Catalan outfit have been Ousmane Dembele, Paulinho and Nelson Semedo.
Xavi, who has previously backed midfielders including Nice’s Jean Michael Seri and PSG pair Marco Verratti and Adrien Rabiot for Barca moves, is unimpressed with the squad additions under new coach Ernesto Valverde.
“I was part of an era that was so impressive that it now seems as if it’s not the same club,” the 37-year-old told Marca. “They play football well, but they could have signed better.
“They have fallen asleep because five or six years ago they had the best players in the world for the Barcelona system. Now they have five or six players for it, in [Andres] Iniesta, [Jordi] Alba, [Lionel] Messi, [Gerard] Pique, Luis Suarez and [Sergio] Busquets.
“Yet Barcelona should have 11 players who fit the system. You never used to say ‘this player would fit in well at Barcelona’ because all those players were already there. They have signed players who do not fit the system.”
Xavi’s criticism could be read as a complaint about the arrival of Paulinho in particular and the Al Sadd player believes the Brazilian would be more suited to Barca’s rivals Real Madrid due to his physicality.
“I played against him at the Confederations Cup and he brilliantly man-marked me and Iniesta,” Xavi added. “He is very powerful. If Real Madrid signed Paulinho there would be no criticism.
“I don’t want to think that we’ve abandoned our idea [of playing]. I see a team that is trying to play [Barcelona’s style] at the same time as they’ve given us so many titles. If that were to change, then it’d be a historic screw-up.
“Since [Johan] Cruyff arrived Barcelona has been different and respected by everybody, wowing football fans. So how could we abandon that idea? I don’t know the current directors, but I would not like to see Barcelona play a different way.
“I really like Valverde as what he brings fits in with Barcelona. He has his ideas clear in his mind. They’ve done well to hire him.”