One of the interesting clashes in style we’ll see when Manchester City and Barcelona play in the Champions League’s round of 16 in a couple of months will be the approach to building a squad. Barca rely on outside talent, but not anywhere near the way Manchester City have over the years, building a championship team out of nothing solely on the power of money.
As the graphic shows, Barcelona do have players coming from the outside – Neymar, Jordi Alba, Dani Alves, Alexis Sanchez, Cesc Fabregas, and others. Fabregas and Alba, for example, were players who grew up in the club but were either poached (Fabregas) or didn’t find their way initially (like Alba). But the guidelines are clear – one, maybe two big signings each summer, and the rest is filled by the youth system and possibly the best academy in the world, even though not every year talents like Iniesta, Messi and others come through.
Manchester City? A team that hasn’t won a league title since the 1970’s and has been yo-yo’ing up and down the leagues before being purchased and refurnished. The current crop of players took €432.9 million to assemble. Most of that money was spent earlier on during the project, before City started making money on their own (not enough to cover expenses), and before they’ve started settling some players down. Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany (actually quite a cheap signing compared to the others). There’s a solid foundation at City, which is why the last three seasons have been mostly successful, even winning the league in 2012.
In terms of football, there’s an obvious difference, but Manuel Pellegrini isn’t British and doesn’t play something we don’t see in the La Liga which will be a huge contract to Barcelona. Pellegrini doesn’t have too many English players in his squad, or hardly any that actually grew up in the club. Pantilimon and Boyata (out on loan) are the only two players to go through the club’s youth system. Barcelona have no problem fielding a lineup consisting only of players that were brought up through the club during their younger days.
There’s no right or wrong in football, only the perception of it. The Barcelona way is usually referred to as the good one, but not every decision this club makes is the most ethical and moral in the world. Manchester City make old powers angry. A club that was never among England’s elite bought its way into power. But Chelsea aren’t any different, and people have gotten used to their presence. People will get used to Manchester City’s as well, and at some point will forget about all the money initially spent, and will focus on whether they’re a great team or not. Knocking out Barcelona will help kickstart that process.