They signed Mascherano because he was dying to get out of Liverpool and they could buy him. How on earth is a DM suppose to replace a Xavi or Iniesta? just doesn't make sense. And that loan example doesn't help your argument. They spent when they didn't need to spend, got themselves into trouble and needed a bank to bail them out. Did they need to spend 40m on Ibra, 30m on Chygrnskiy and then 40m on Villa, 20m on Masch? like i said, spending for the sake of spending.
My loan example was valid in the sense that they cannot afford to simply go out and just buy players willy-nilly without having a pre-arranged budget set at the start of the season, which they have and it is £50m solely for the purchase of Fabregas in the summer. This is without the inclusion of sales.
I said "perhaps" as a replacement because if either of them get injured, like when Xavi was injured at the start of the season, they play Biscuits in the role of Iniesta and Iniesta in Xavi spot and Mascherano in Biscuits' place. Except they didn't have the fluidity with Smash in the team, and that's why he doesn't play anymore and they'll get rid of him.
Bringing up their previous transfers is foolish. They signed Ibrahimovic (OK they got completely mugged off, I make it at £65m: it was £45m up front and Eto'o who was valued at £20m by both teams) who they thought would give them a different dimension against teams like Inter last season who they couldn't pass the ball around, but that never materialised as Pep discovered what many in Britian already thought: Ibra is massively over-rated.
They signed Chygrynskiy because they believed after his decent performanes is the champions league the season before he would be great for them, a ball playing centre-half. It was actually £24m they paid for him, and after realising he wasn't going to fit in well with the rest of their team they sold him back to his club for half the price. I've never heard of a club spending £20+ on a player and hoping he'd fit in well before having to ship him back to his previous employers because it didn't work out...Keane.
If have you have even seen any football in the past 3 years you will know that David Villa is the best goal-scoring forward in the world, and if you had read any football related newspaper articles or visited any forums (especially Liverpool ones) it seemed every club with a serious desire to win wanted to sign Villa, but fair enough to Valencia they were in financial ruin and needed as much as they could get out of Villa and British clubs don't like paying over £30m for a striker (the only one was Shevchenko...). Real couldn't get him, in part he didn't want to go and they thought Benzema was a better choice (Younger. So far...). And Barca had opted for Ibra, when they realised the Ibra mistake they got rid of him (unfortunately Mancini had already got Tevez and he's a one-striker kind of guy) so he's at AC Milan at £20m. Then they turned to Villa and paid £34m for him.
I already have stated my Smash case, and I think it was more along the £18m mark. They have spent big, but got around half of that back when they have sold them on. It is not simply spending for spendings sake, there is a difference. Pep only bought Pique and Abidal in his first season, won 6 trophies. Second season his transfers were not so good, but hey who has a flawless record? He still won the league and the Spanish Super Cup. But at least they have the balls to go "this player hasn't worked, get rid of him".
They don't buy just because they can. They, like many other clubs, buy when they feel the player will add something to the team they need, it's just because during the early noughties they didn't have much money to go and make big signings so you didn't notice.