With the financial limitations of Barça at present, the reserves’ centre-back Ronald Araújo is expected to be the one to strengthen the first team defence next term.
According to Spanish news outlet AS, Barcelona will not sign a new centre-back this summer due to the club’s current financial situation. Instead, the Catalans plan on counting on Barça B’s Ronald Araújo to fill in the vacant spot of a back-up centre-back, with Jean-Clair Todibo expected to leave for a fee of around €25 million.
Initially, Bartomeu considered the centre-back and centre-forward positions as the priority to reinforce in the upcoming transfer window, but, with the coronavirus crisis, the plans have had to change. Lautaro Martínez continues to be a top target for the striker role, but the board now considers that the backline can be bolstered with a man they already have in the reserves.
At 1.91 metres, Ronald Araújo is a towering presence in both boxes | Photo by Imago
21-year-old Araújo was signed by Barcelona in 2018 from Boston River, in his native Uruguay, for €1.7 million plus 3.5m in variables. In these past two seasons the youngster has experienced a great evolution under the supervision of García Pimienta, who has taught him the associative and positional concepts he was missing. Ronald hardly ever loses an aerial or physical duel in the Second Division B, but little by little he has been improving his on-ball game, his positional sense and his intelligence and calmness on the pitch.
So much so that Barça’s former manager Ernesto Valverde noted that the progress of Araújo was much better than Todibo’s, who is currently out on loan at Schalke. In October 2019, precisely replacing the injured Todibo, the Uruguayan got his debut for the first team in a clash against Sevilla. It only lasted 13 minutes, as he was sent off a few moments after coming on. Still, it was a moment he will never forget, even if he may be enjoying such playtime more often next campaign. This might be his chance to make a step forward in his career.
Report: Koeman has opened the door for Dembélé to leave
According to Cat Radio, Ronald Koeman isn’t so convinced with Ousmane Dembélé anymore as in the beginning. The Dutchman had higher expectations for the player, but despite being fully fit in his appearance against Villarreal and the pre-season friendly earlier, the winger did nothing surprising.
Koeman also realizes that the player’s departure would open up the possibilities for new signings. The Dutchman is particularly insisting on Memphis Depay’s signature. The club accepts the fact that if Dembélé does not leave, they will not be able to sign a number 9.
Earlier yesterday, Dembélé was linked to Manchester United, but the club denied contact with the English club regarding the player. Even though there is some interest from United, sources confirm that it would be only possible as a loan deal.
Dembélé, despite all the rumors, is willing to stay in Barcelona and gain a starting spot in Koeman’s new sporting project, which seems very promising looking at the Dutchman’s first clash against Villarreal.
Sources: Cat Radio, Rac1