Barcelona revamp fitness team due to Laporta worry – sources

Barcelona have began to overhaul their fitness department after president Joan Laporta complained the team were not in top physical condition last season, sources have told ESPN.

Several fitness coaches, including Ivan Torres, Jaume Munill and Carles Nogueira, have left the Catalan club following the decision to replace first team coach Xavi Hernández with Hansi Flick.

Work is ongoing to appoint replacements, with sources telling ESPN Julio Tous and Pepe Conde are among the candidates to join the club as part of the shake-up.

Tous has vast experience in strength and conditioning after working alongside Antonio Conte during his time as coach of Juventus, Italy, Chelsea, Inter and Tottenham.

Fitness coach Conde, meanwhile, is in talks with his current club Sevilla about an exit after sources confirmed to ESPN an approach from Barça.

Real Sociedad‘s Rafa Maldonado, another fitness coach, has also been linked with Barça.

Tous and Conde would both represent club appointments, while Flick will also bring in his own backroom staff in the form of coaches Marcus Sorg, Toni Tapalovic and Heiko Westermann.

One of the strong points of Flick’s Bayern side, which won the Champions League in 2020, beating Barça 8-2 in the quarterfinal, was how impressive and strong they were physically.

It is one of the reasons Laporta picked Flick and the Barça president has outlined to the German coach that he must improve the team physically on the back of his perception that they tailed off in big games this past season. “The players must be well-prepared physically,” Laporta said in an interview with the club’s in-house television platform Barça One last week.

“The youngsters, the substitutes, players like [Robert] Lewandowski, everyone has to be in good shape physically. The physical preparation is essential because, with that, and having the ball, we can win everything.

“This past season we saw the team dip after the 60th minute physically. We didn’t finish games as we wanted. In the two Clásicos, for example.

“I am not saying the team was not well prepared, but there are always things to improve — and which will be improved. We need more.”

Beyond a change of coach and revamping the fitness department, Barça would also like to strengthen the squad with the signing of a defensive midfielder this summer.

However, the club’s hands are tied due to their financial situation, so any signings will be dependent on first raising money either through new revenue streams or player exits.

In addition to a midfielder, Laporta has also said the club hope to re-sign João Félix and João Cancelo on loan, while they could also target a winger if they have the cash to do any further deals.