Richard Buxton: Barcelona are world’s most dysfunctional club
Barca's problems include bizarre transfer logic and strife in the dressing room between players and coach
Barcelona are finding new and inventive ways of finally overtaking Real Madrid.
Eclipsing their arch-rivals Champions League and La Liga hauls remains out of touch, but the Catalans can at least lay claim to being the world's most dysfunctional club.
A fresh layer of farce is added to the Nou Camp's corridors of power with seemingly each passing week and has now extended to matters of the heart on the pitch itself.
Swopping Arthur Melo for Miralem Pjanic is an act of competitive self-harm at the altar of "clever" accounting.
The deals allow both the Spanish champions and Juventus to save face in posting annual profits, yet there is only one true winner from the exchange.
The 12 million euros (S$18.8m) banked from Turin does not even come close to cushioning the blow that comes with sacrificing their gifted, upcoming midfielder for a replacement who is seven years older while also a fading force in elite-level football.
Johan Cruyff's famous edict that "the money should be on the pitch, not in the bank" no longer seems to apply for president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his boardroom cohorts.
Bizarre transfer logic is not uncharted territory for Barca, nor is a Serie A giant trading up at their personal expense.
They previously offloaded the free-scoring Samuel Eto'o to buy into Zlatan Ibrahimovic's hype and paid Inter Milan 46m euros for the privilege.
Eto'o racked up 130 goals in 190 appearances for Barca, while the egomaniacal Swede mustered 22 in 46 games of a season-long spell where he warred with Pep Guardiola.
Ibrahimovic's resentment towards the current Manchester City manager reflected fans' feelings about his arrival.
Adding insult to injury was his predecessor's role in helping Inter dethrone Barca in their own backyard to reach the 2010 Champions League final.
History could repeat itself if Quique Setien's side and Juve are paired together in the latter stages of Europe's premier club competition when it resumes early next month.
A lack of long-term planning is becoming a recurring theme at the Nou Camp as Pjanic becomes the ninth 30-and-above player in the Blaugrana's ranks.
That figure will reach the double-figure mark next March, courtesy of Antoine Griezmann.
Setien, too, is symptomatic of that failure to look to the future with growing uncertainty over whether he will remain in the dugout for the beginning of the 2020/21 campaign.
Parachuting the former Real Betis coach in to succeed Ernesto Valverde at just 24 hours' notice, amid a host of denials and disapproval, was an ominous sign of things to come.
The two-and-a-half-year contract penned in January appears borderline redundant as players signal their dissent in public as well as privately.
Lionel Messi's refusal to engage with assistant Eder Sarabia at Celta Vigo last weekend is the latest case in point.
In truth, Setien was a dead man walking from the day he stepped into Valverde's shoes. Next year's presidential elections offered a mutually beneficial get-out clause for both parties.
Few anticipated things would deteriorate a full 12 months ahead of schedule.
Barcelona's players do not enjoy the same level of communion that once existed with Guardiola and, to a slightly lesser extent, Luis Enrique.
A lifetime devotion to Cruyff's principles has done little to ingratiate the beleaguered 61-year-old to his new subjects.
The sun continues to shine righteously on the Catalonian capital, but the club that bear its name finds themselves overcast by dark clouds which will take several years to completely lift.