Governing champions, leaders, Champions League group winners, captain of the Ballon d & # 39; Or winner … but still in crisis?
That may not sound normal, but Barcelona is not a normal club.
At Nou Camp, style and substance are in demand, and manager Ernesto Valverde fought for his job in a series of unconvincing performances, even though he led his team to the top of the La Liga.
The sensitive situation was compounded by shock news that striker Luis Suarez has been suspended for four months and may be causing a desperate slump in the transfer market on Sunday.
Xavi advertised, Valverde quit?
Although they won La Liga by a mile, Barca's last season ended terribly with the infamous exit from the Champions League in Liverpool and a final loss to Copa del Rey against Valencia.
Valverde somehow clung to his job, but it was clear that he had little recognition, and the new campaign rarely delivered convincing collective accomplishments to his team, although Suarez and Lionel Messi's individual talent ensured enough victories to go alongside Real to take the lead in Madrid.
Barca's away form was particularly bad, with defeats at Athletic Bilbao, Granada and Levante and a draw at Osasuna, Real Sociedad and Espanyol.
The main concern is that all of these games followed a similar pattern, with Valverde unable to fix the problems that regularly left his team in possession and vulnerable.
After a poor performance in pre-Christmas Clasico – a disappointing goalless draw that largely dominated Real – Barca's last setback came against Atletico Madrid on Thursday in the reformatted Super Cup semi-final when they conceded two late goals to drop to 3-2 loss.
After this defeat, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu seems to have decided that enough is enough.
Xavi, who has just started his managerial career at Al-Sadd after playing for the Qatar club for the past four years, confirmed media reports that he spoke to Barca's sports director Eric Abidal and general manager Oscar Grau over the weekend.
On Saturday, the dismissal of Valverde and the immediate appointment of Xavi was generally considered a formality in the Spanish media.
But a turn came on Sunday when Xavi reportedly traced decide to reject the club's offer and stay with Al-Sadd – at least for the time being.
Another complication – and it is inevitable that behind-the-scenes intrigues arise in such a political club – is that Xavi has long been an ally of businessman Victor Font, who plans to stand against the current Presidium next year.
Instead of rejecting Barca, it may be more accurate to say that Xavi rejected Bartomeu and preferred to pass his time until Font takes office if his presidency is successful. And he's not the only one: Another famous former skipper, Carles Puyol, declined the role of sports director in September after also supporting Font in the past.
It is understandable that Valverde is considering quitting after being annoyed by his club's semi-public persecution of Xavi, and if he remains it is hard to see how he can keep his authority after his treatment in the past few days.
So Valverde could still go, but if Xavi doesn't come, who could replace him? In such a turbulent environment and given the fact that you are making the second choice, it is perhaps not surprising that Dutch boss Ronald Koeman has also reportedly declined the job. And the temptation for another potential target was further reduced by serious injury damage.
Suarez absence sparks transfer hunt
Suarez was in great shape, scoring or supporting each of his team's last 10 league goals, and continued to enjoy a telepathic connection with Messi.
But the Uruguayan could miss the rest of the season after knee surgery on Sunday. The diagnosis of a four-month absence is far worse than originally thought.
Replacing Suarez in the center forward could be achieved by repositioning Antoine Griezmann. Antoine Griezmann has been playing on the left side at Atletico Madrid since his summer change, but would be happy to have the chance to play a more central role.
That would obviously leave a gap on the left wing due to an inconclusive combination of the currently (and often) injured Ousmane Dembele, local Carles Perez (who feels more comfortable on the right side) and the extremely inexperienced teenage star Ansu Fati could be filled.
Barca may also be forced to take over a new center forward to succeed Suarez, which is expected to take place at the end of the season, with Inter Milan's all-action Argentinian Lautaro Martinez being a top candidate.
However, money is a big problem. Barca's budget is already exhausted and they almost certainly would have to sell multiple players to meet Martinez's 111 million euro release clause at Inter.
That could start with Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal, who has reportedly sued Barca in a dispute over unpaid bonuses and has already drawn Inter's attention.
Cheaper options could be former Barca apprentice Dani Olmo, who shone for Dinamo Zagreb this season, and Osasuna striker Chimy Avila, who has won admirers across Spain with his tough running style and penchant for spectacular goals.
But given the soap opera nature of life in Barca, it shouldn't come as a surprise to us to see another offer for a superstar that was unsuccessfully wooed last summer.
Get ready for the headlines from & # 39; Neymar back to Barca & # 39 ;.
However, the question is: who would manage it?