What impact will Eric Abidal and Ramon Planes have at the club?



It's difficult to discern if constant transfer rumors or the behind the scenes politics of FC Barcelona exhaust Cules more, and it seems that Eric Abidal has now lodged himself directly into both with his appointment as the new director of football. Abidal replaced outgoing director Robert Fernandez, who served with the club since 2015 and has an expiring contract that will not be renewed. Fernandez will have a hot and cold legacy at Barcelona, having replaced Andoni Zubizarreta in the midst of the transfer ban. He'll most be remembered for the summer of 2016, which saw massive turnover of the first team roster. Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Digne, Andre Gomes, Paco Alcacer, Jasper Cillessen and Denis Suarez were all brought in while Dani Alves, Marc Bartra, Martin Montoya, Claudio Bravo, Alex Song, Sandro Ramirez and Alen Halilovic made their exit.

It's unknown what kind of role Fernandez had in convincing Lionel Messi to sign his contract extension, but what is known is his role in the Neymar saga from a year ago, famously stating that "Neymar continuará en el FC Barcelona" just days before the Brazilian was posing with a new club shirt in Paris. The leverage that Barcelona had lost in their bids to bring in new talent such as Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho was exposed to the world, and selling off players appeared to become challenging as well.

Yet, the appointment of Eric Abidal is receiving mixed responses. While he is a club legend for his exploits on the field and his resilience off it during his battle with cancer, his resume doesn't reach much farther than his role of club ambassador since 2017. He won't be introduced until the middle of July, but his most important business of the next year will be coming in the next few days as he attempts to help pry Antoine Griezmann away from Atletico Madrid and the contract extension that they have offered him.

Abidal's role in the Griezmann signing would go a long way in making his first year seem like a success, but it is with cautious optimism that anyone would believe that his reputation won't take a major hit if the current French international isn't brought in. If he is able to navigate the over-reactive press, be it good or bad, he can hopefully begin his role as a sort of liaison between the players and board. If Barcelona can show some sort of unity from management to athletes, it could go a long way in making future business easier on everyone involved.

The fortunate news for Abidal is the arrival of Ramon Planes, leaving his post as the director of football at Getafe to become the new sporting director for Barcelona in his native Catalonia. His previous experience in directing duties and transfer knowledge, including a reported network in South America, will be useful for the new regime.

Pep Segura's working relationship with the two men should have plenty of attention out of the gate and even with the appointment of Abidal and Planes, there are feelings that Segura is still the man wielding tremendous power and alongside Bartomeu, is the man that plays the biggest role in shaping the future of the club.

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