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Publisher's Summary

With rare and unrivaled access, best-selling coauthor of Soccernomics and longtime Financial Times journalist Simon Kuper tells the story of how FC Barcelona became the most successful club in the world - and how that era is now ending.

FC Barcelona is not just the world’s highest grossing sports club, it is simply one of the most influential organizations on the planet. At last count, it had approximately 214 million social media followers, more than any other sports club except Real Madrid CF - and by one earlier measure, more than all 32 NFL teams combined. It has more in common with multinational megacompanies like Netflix or small nation-states than it does with most soccer teams. No wonder its motto is “More than a club”. But it was not always so. In the past three decades, Barcelona went from a regional team to a global powerhouse, becoming a model of sustained excellence and beautiful soccer and a consistent winner of championships. Simon Kuper unravels exactly how this transformation took place, paying special attention to the club’s two biggest stars, Johan Cruyff and Lionel Messi, who is arguably the greatest soccer player of all time. Messi joined Barça at age 13 and, more than anyone, has been the engine and standard-bearer of Barcelona’s glory. But his era is coming to an end - and with it, a once-in-a-lifetime golden run. This book charts Barça’s rise and fall.

Like many world-beating organizations, FC Barcelona closely guards its secrets, granting few outsiders access to the Camp Nou, its legendary home stadium. But after decades of writing about the sport and the club, Kuper was given access to the inner sanctum and the people behind the scenes who strive daily to keep Barcelona at the top. Erudite, personal, and capturing all the latest upheavals, his portrait of this incredible institution goes beyond soccer to understand FC Barcelona as a unique social, cultural, and political phenomenon.

This audiobook includes a downloadable PDF that contains the cast of characters from the book.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Simon Kuper (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Founded in 1899, the FC Barcelona soccer club (also known as Barça) from Spain’s Catalonia region is one of the sport's most famous franchises, with a rich history of dynamic coaches and managers, as well as superstars like Johan Cruyff and Lionel Messi. Who better to explore this legacy than veteran British sports journalist Kuper (Soccernomics, 2009). His account delivers an insider's view of FC Barcelona.... Kuper vividly captures the unique cultural phenomenon that is FC Barcelona. A must for soccer fans.” (Booklist)

“Kuper translates his decades of coverage of the world’s highest-grossing sports club into a fascinating record of its legacy.... Brilliantly captures the business of sports. [The Barcelona Complex] is likely to be the definitive account of the business side of the famous club.” (Publishers Weekly

“Essential reading for anyone interested in innovation or high performance.... [The Barcelona Complex] is both a debunking and a restoration.... Kuper diverts our eye away from the dazzling but familiar skyline and instead takes us inside the cathedral close.” (New Statesman

What listeners say about The Barcelona Complex

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Amazing

The book is a colorful story. Wonderful detail provided. I enjoyed it start to finish.

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A comprehensive history of Barca

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Kuper goes deep into the world of football and Barcelona. I thought the insights into training methods of Cruyff and what he created at La Masia were particularly interesting. Drills I did as an American player in the 90s came straight from that philosophy and I never knew it. I dinged the narrator a star because of the awkward pronunciations of well known figures in the game.

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Every soccer fan should read

Although it requires some prior knowledge (lots of name dropping) this is a fascinating sociopolitical inspection of FC Barcelona. As a Liverpool fan I genuinely appreciated learning more about the business of int’l football, the history of the modern game and about individual legends. 10/10 would recommend