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Analysis

An analysis of Barcelona’s summer 2020 transfer window

Domagoj Kostanjšak

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Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona’s summer transfer window has been quite exciting despite no arrivals on deadline day. This analysis will give you more information on all the deals that have been completed in the last couple of months.


Outgoing transfers:

Arthur Melo to Juventus (72 million euros)

Definitely the biggest departure from the club was that of Arthur Melo. The Brazilian was essentially swapped for Miralem Pjanić who arrived at the Camp Nou. Even though the young midfielder was originally adamant on staying, the upper hierarchy ensured he would become an unlikely sacrifice to balance the books.

Whether that was the right move to make or not still remains to be seen. But the player dubbed the ‘next Xavi‘ is now a Bianconeri instead of a Blaugrana.

Nélson Semedo to Wolverhampton Wanderers (30 million euros)

Another surprise out of Josep Maria Bartomeu’s playbook was the departure of Nélson Semedo. Of course, we have to remember that the Portuguese right-back struggled immensely to get accustomed to the Barça way.

For that reason – even though it was out of the blue – his exit still felt like a necessity. Not to mentioned it paved the way for the arrival of a much more exciting prospect.

Jean-Clair Todibo to Benfica (Two-year loan with a 2 million euros fee)

Jean-Clair Todibo was highly rated upon his arrival to the Camp Nou. But for some reason or the other, he never really got going. Following his return from Schalke 04, the Frenchman’s exit was in the works until the final day of the transfer window.

At first, it seemed like he would be among the only ones actually commanding a decent fee but in the end – despite strong links with Fulham – he ended up leaving on loan to Benfica.

READ: Official: Benfica and Barcelona reach an agreement for Todibo

Ivan Rakitić to Sevilla (1.5 million euros)

We always knew his time at the club was coming to an end but it seemed Barcelona waited for far too long. Ivan Rakitić could’ve mustered a huge fee a couple of years back but now, the Catalans returned him to Sevilla for a symbolic sum.

Still, his departure was necessary despite his brilliant years of service at the Camp Nou.

Arturo Vidal to Inter (Departed as a free agent)

Another veteran of the game exiting the club to rejuvenate the squad and free up the wage bill. Arturo Vidal was a breath of fresh air at Barcelona but his presence blocked the youth prospects and didn’t fit Ronald Koeman’s plans.

Unfortunately, the Catalans couldn’t make a single dime on his sale since he left as a free agent.

Rafinha to Paris Saint-Germain (No fee, just variables in the contract)

Despite his struggles at the Camp Nou, seeing Rafinha leave was always going to be difficult. Had it not been for the constant injuries, the Brazilian could’ve had an incredible career at Barcelona.

Unfortunately, it was not to be and now he moves to France basically for free.

READ: Official: Rafinha joins PSG on a free transfer

Luis Suárez to Atlético Madrid (Departed as a free agent)

Perhaps the most painful of all the departures is the one of Luis Suárez to Atlético Madrid. The Uruguayan is a club legend and should’ve been given a far more fitting farewell.

Still, it was his time to go but the circumstances were not ideal, to say the least. Not to mention that he went to a direct rival, which makes it that much worse.

Other exits: Moussa Wagué to PAOK, Arda Turan to Galatasaray, Marc Cucurella to Getafe and Carles Pérez to AS Roma.

Incoming transfers:

Miralem Pjanić from Juventus (60 million euros)

By far the biggest incoming transfer but also one that was a part of the Arthur deal. The Bosnian midfielder replaced the Brazilian for a slightly lower fee overall. Pjanić is, of course, much older than Arthur but he will bring balance and the experience into the squad.

So far, we’ve seen Koeman use him off the bench, mostly as a direct substitute for Sergio Busquets, and he’s been decent as well. There is certainly quality in him still and he may yet prove to be a shrewd signing.

Francisco Trincão from Braga (31 million euros)

One of Portugal’s brightest young talents, Francisco Trincão arrives both as a bet for the future and a reinforcement for the present. The young winger has already showed his flair and skill, albeit mostly coming off the bench.

Still, he is among the players who can definitely bring hope to a largely disappointed fanbase.

READ: Riqui Puig will get a first-team shirt number

Sergiño Dest from Ajax (21 million euros)

Definitely among the most exciting signings of Barcelona’s summer transfer window is Sergiño Dest from Ajax. The highly-rated full-back has arrived to replace Semedo and reinvigorate the right side of Barcelona’s attack.

Koeman immediately gave him his debut against Sevilla at the Camp Nou following Jordi Alba’s injury. The 19-year-old is dubbed to become one of the best in the world in his position. For that reason, this is an incredible piece of business by the Catalans.

Matheus Fernandes from Palmeiras (7 million euros)

A signing that perhaps went under the radar a bit but Matheus Fernandes is very much set to have a role in the first-team. The 22-year-old Brazilian is a midfielder by trade and even though Barcelona are stacked in that position, Koeman may yet find a way to incorporate him into the squad.

We’ll have to wait and see on whose expense it comes though…

Pedri from Las Palmas (5 million euros)

Even though Pedri is only 17 years of age, he’s already looking like a proper gem. Koeman has even used him as an impact sub in the 2020/21 LaLiga season already and it seems the youngster will go on to have an important role in the team.

Apart from his exceptional technical ability, Pedri is also quite versatile and can play both as a midfielder and as a winger. This will undoubtedly be a huge asset for the coach.

Philippe Coutinho from Bayern Munich (Returned from loan)

At first it seemed that Philippe Coutinho would immediately be sold after his return from loan. However, not only has the Brazilian stayed at the Camp Nou but he has also been an instrumental part of the team so far in the season.

Koeman has given him more freedom and has also deployed him in his favourite no.10 position. This has resulted in the Brazilian getting far more involved and influential on the pitch.

READ: Dembélé will stay at Barcelona this season

Carles Aleñá from Real Betis (Returned from loan)

Finally, Carles Aleñá has also made his return from Real Betis. So far, we haven’t seen him in action apart from the pre-season games but it seems there could be a place for him in the team.

He is, of course, one of the La Masia graduates who are still pushing for a spot in Koeman’s plans. It would be a shame if his talent was wasted in the end.

Final remarks

It was truly a busy couple of months and Barcelona’s summer transfer window was exciting as it was stressful. From the arrival of Dest to Lionel Messi’s wish to leave, there were certainly ups and downs along the way.

Overall, despite missing out on an additional centre-back and a centre-forward, Barcelona’s summer transfer window proved to be a success. More or less.

Now it’s up to Koeman to do his magic and lead the club forward with the officially confirmed squad for 2020/21.

I’ve been a Barcelona fan for more than half of my life. What started as blind love is slowly turning into professional writing. Now, I get to write about Barca, analyse them, and voice my opinions on them across platforms. I’m happy to be a part of this big project.

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Analysis

Can Alexander Isak be the firepower Barcelona need in their attacking arsenal

Jan-Michael Marshall

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Photo via Imago

With incoming presidential elections and the resulting anticipation of a rebuild, more and more players are being linked to Barcelona. Besides big names like Erling Haaland and David Alaba, Real Sociedad centre-forward Alexander Isak is reportedly on the Catalans’ radar. A new striker is an absolute must for the club and Isak’s €70 million release clause is turning heads. His stock is rising and he has a bright future ahead of him, but should Barcelona pursue him?

Player Profile

Isak is currently in the midst of his second season for Basque-outfit Real Sociedad. The 21-year old started his career at the Swedish club AIK before moving to Borussia Dortmund’s youth setup in 2017. Lacking first-team opportunities, he was loaned to Dutch club Willem II, where he tallied an impressive 14 goals and 7 assists in 18 appearances. Isak then moved to Sociedad in the summer of 2019 and scored 16 goals in his debut season. This season, he has 12 goals in 29 appearances.

Isak is Sweden’s next star. (Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images)

He has been dubbed the “next Zlatan Ibrahimovic” by some, and with the Swedish national team, Isak has scored five goals in 18 appearances.

Tactical and Statistical Analysis

Isak has all the attributes of a classic “target man”, one whose main role is to win aerial duels and play off of creative teammates, but his game is much more than that. He stands tall at 190 cm, or 6 foot 3 inches, but has incredible speed and balance. Despite his height, however, he is only winning 42% of his aerial duels this season.

Isak likes to play off the shoulder of the defence, eagerly waiting for through balls from creative midfielders like Mike Merino or David Silva. Alternatively, he can also hold the ball up. With his combination of speed and dribbling ability, he is a constant threat on the counter-attack, capable of getting past defenders or dragging bodies and creating space for runners. He also has decent vision and passing acumen for a centre forward, but Sociedad’s set up doesn’t allow him to maximize these qualities.

Isak has the speed and strength to bully players anywhere on the pitch. (Photo via Imago)

Statistically, he is averaging 1.36 dribbles per 90 minutes this season at a clip of 64.8%. According to fbref.com, when compared to forwards in Europe’s top five leagues (Spain, England, France, Germany, and Italy), Isak stands out in terms of his successful pressures rate (93rd percentile), pressures in the attacking third (81st percentile), and carries into the penalty area (87th percentile).

In front of the goal, Isak is dangerous with both his feet and his head. He is unpredictable with his finishing, always keeping defenders and goalkeepers on edge. This campaign, his 12 goals are fairly evenly distributed: six with his right foot, three with his left, and three with his head. Most of his goals have come from through balls or passes over the defence. He carries the ball in his stride and finishes with confidence.

Isak’s goal scoring locations for the 20/21 season, retrieved from understat.com

His goalscoring record was rough to start the season, scoring only four goals across 20 appearances, but he’s picked things up in 2021. The forward has been in rich vein of form, already scoring nine goals this calendar year. Furthermore, in La Liga, he has scored in each of his last six appearances, not to mention a hat trick last time out against Alavés. He could have a breakout season if he continues scoring at this rate, attracting offers from teams across Europe.

Where would he fit at Barça?

Naturally, Isak fits a need for the Blaugrana at centre forward. The team has no natural “number nine” –other than Martin Braithwaite — and with Messi entering his twilight years and potentially leaving in the summer, they desperately need goal-scorers. The Swedish international is well adapted to playing as a lone striker in a 4-3-3 system and is already accustomed to playing in La Liga, so Barça won’t need to worry about adaptation along those lines.

Tactically, his height and runs into the box could bring a different dimension to a fairly one-dimensional Barça attack. While he could fit in well with the team’s patient and possession-oriented approach, his game is more suited for runs into open spaces and spearheading counter attacks.

Isak is built for the modern game with immaculate pace and power. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

The question is, would he start for Barcelona? Messi is best suited for a false nine role, and Isak would not displace Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembélé, or Ansu Fati in the front line. On the contrary, he could be an extremely productive squad option, but his potential transfer fee would be too high to warrant such a role.

Should Barcelona pursue him?

There are plenty of intriguing reasons for Barça to pursue Isak, but he should not be their number one transfer target. He undoubtedly has a bright future ahead of him and is showing immense quality this season, but he might not be ready to carry Barcelona’s front line.

There will be a lot asked of him, and he will be expected to perform on the biggest stages in world football, and his zero goals in the Europa League this season are not reassuring. Despite his incredible form over the last few games, Barça need to see more consistent output if he is to be their number nine for the next decade.

Isak is incredible, but he has a long way to go. (Photo via Getty)

He would also cost the club around 70 million euros, and that money could serve the team better by investing that in other areas like centre back or centre defensive mid.

While he is still young and has time to improve, Barcelona should focus on more refined and finished products.

Closing Thoughts

On the one hand, Isak could bring a lot to the Blaugrana and offer much-needed variation to their attack. On the other hand, there are signs pointing to the fact that he is not yet the calibre of player Barcelona need to lead their frontline, especially for that sum of €70 million. He could be a more than sufficient squad option and someone who could develop in the long term, but once again, that transfer fee warrants caution.

Also, facilitating his move could be quite difficult given that his ex-team Borussia Dortmund have a reported €30 million “buy-back” clause attached to his name. If (and when) the German club are to lose Erling Haaland, they could easily opt for Isak as his replacement.

Maybe in a few years. (Photo via Imago)

Isak is a solid striker and has a lot of potential, but he is not yet the player capable of leading Barcelona’s front line. That paired with his potential transfer fee means the club should focus on other transfer targets first.

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