Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski has called on the club to dip into the transfer market during the summer in order to become more competitive next season.
Barça have had much-publicised financial problems over the last couple of years, but committed almost €160m towards new players last summer and brought just under €50m back in through sales.
They were not even able to register every new signing and contract renewal with La Liga until after the start of the season because of caps on spending power – €50m buy Jules Kounde missed the opening two games as a result of that delay.
Barça executives had to search for extra income and managed to secure cash injections by activating various ‘economic levers’, effectively selling off a proportion of various future earnings.
That strategy has sort of worked, seeing Xavi’s team drop only 10 points all season to top La Liga with just 13 games left to play. Victory over Real Madrid in El Clasico at Camp Nou on Sunday would extend their lead over Los Blancos to 12 points and all but seal a first title since 2018/19.
But the Champions League has been a different story. Barça were knocked out at the group stage for the second season in a row and didn’t even make it past the first knockout round in the consolation Europa League following a two-legged aggregate defeat to Manchester United.
Lewandowski, who joined from Bayern Munich for €45m and has scored 25 goals in all competitions, isn’t asking for miracles but has suggested there is still need for improvement.
“There is a good team,” he told ESPN. “Maybe one [or] two changes makes this team, not perfect, but more competitive. Sometimes we talk about small things, but if you change this, it will be even more spectacular.“
Discussing Barcelona’s shortcomings in Europe, the Pole added, “This season we had problems in the Champions League and that is what we must correct, but up to now we are not ready to fight at the highest level for [all] the three titles: Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey.
“It is impossible. In football it's impossible to change something in a week or a month, it takes time.
“I always wanted to play in La Liga. You know Barcelona have a lot of problems. But when I saw the path they wanted to take, I said: 'I can be a part of this.'
“I saw the I challenge myself and told myself that I was ready to take it on. I may be 34-years-old but it's just a number and I know I can play several years at the highest level, I don't know exactly how many, but I've always been happy to play. I care more about the mental than physical things.”