That is easier said than done, of course: Barcelona has the highest payroll in soccer hanging around its neck — its players earn more, on average, than any other team in any sport in the world — and the sorts of teams that might buy its expensive, aging stars are few and far between.
And besides, nobody would trust the current executive management of Barcelona to build again, to restore the team to its increasingly distant glory.
It is the leadership of Josep Maria Bartomeu, the president, that frittered away the prince’s ransom Paris St.-Germain paid for Neymar on Coutinho and Ousmane Dembélé. They are the ones who have spent three quarters of a billion Euros on transfer fees since 2017 and managed to make the team worse, who have churned through sporting directors, who have watched on as prospect after prospect has left the club’s academy because the path to the first team was blocked.
Ultimately, that is where the blame should lie: with those who have overseen a decade in which the team that thrilled Europe under Pep Guardiola has withered away to a husk, who have wasted the final years of Messi’s peak, who brought Barcelona those nights in Rome, Liverpool and now Lisbon, with those who have brought Barcelona low, who have brought Barcelona here.
By the time the eighth went in, Barcelona’s players were barely moving. Sétien, too, was motionless. Under the glare of the floodlights, it looked haunted, shellshocked. The humiliation was a deeply public one, one that will follow them all for some time. Those that truly bear responsibility were spared that ordeal.
But there are some things that cannot be avoided. Eight. In a Champions League quarterfinal, against the mighty Barcelona, with the world watching on, Bayern Munich scored eight. For Sétien, certainly, for some of the players, most likely, and for this incarnation of Barcelona, this vision of it on the field and this regime off it, definitely, there is no return. This is the end.