Barcelona being plagued with financial worries every transfer window has become the norm now. With the January transfer window open, that notion appears to be as prevalent as ever.
However, since Joan Laporta was elected club president for the second time, the Catalan giants have somehow managed to invariably wriggle their way past monetary obstructions in an attempt to land their desired targets.
More often than not, these have been temporary stop-gap solutions, but smart business in the transfer window with low-cost deals has worked out well at times.
There has been a shift towards targeted acquisitions that not only address immediate needs but also contribute to the long-term vision of rebuilding the squad.
And the links tying Aleix Garcia to Barcelona exemplify the club’s strategic approach in the transfer market under Laporta’s leadership.
With a reported release clause of just €12 million, Barcelona could aptly bolster the midfield with the services of Garcia.
But it will all come down to the context in which Barça wishes to berth the Girona midfielder, depending on the role he plays and what responsibilities he is handed.
Despite being arguably one of the best midfielders in La Liga, Barça will only be vindicated in their pursuit to sign him if he is given a favourable habitat to operate in.
Understanding what Garcia brings to the table
If Barcelona intends to replace Sergio Busquets with another Spanish midfielder who similarly oozes class in possession, they would be navigating a potential pitfall.
While on paper Aleix Garcia starts at the base of the midfield for Girona and has been Oriol Romeu’s replacement, the 26-year-old is anything but a classic defensive midfielder.
Barcelona’s biggest grievance this season has been a shortage of ball-winners, and most notably an anchor in the defensive midfield position.
Due to Xavi practicing a highly direct style of play, control has not always been constant. And in the event the ball is lost, there is a glaring scarcity of duel winners, with Gavi out injured and Oriol Romeu unable to replicate his form from earlier in the season.
When there is compactness, patience in possession, and an emphasis on building through the midfield, the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Pedri, and Frenkie de Jong thrive.
But that has unfortunately been a rare occurrence this season, causing the Catalans to be out of sorts when the ball has to be won back.
Meanwhile, Girona manager Michel has mastered his fundamentals in possession, guising the team’s own deficiency of ball winners by maximizing the strengths of his existing personnel.
Michel, in his own words, claimed in an interview earlier this season that with Romeu previously, he did not always look for control, as he had the liberty to win the ball back. But with Aleix Garcia, he focuses more on suffocating opponents on the ball.
And preaching a philosophy that is more in tune with the available players has reaped immense rewards, with Garcia especially benefiting.
By moving the ball, on average, slower than anyone else in La Liga, pinning the opposition back deep, and winning the ball back high up the pitch, Aleix Garcia has earned the right to be called one of the best midfielders in La Liga.
However, at Barcelona, this has not been a consistent environment and arguably proves to be a mismatch with the traits Garcia excels at. Concurrently, Xavi’s team is winning an average of 15 balls in the opposition’s half, as opposed to 21 balls from last season.
A midfield sorcerer
Although the Blaugranes would be doing a disservice to Garcia’s talents by shoehorning him into a role that limits his talents, he is undeniably a game changer when allowed to be.
The Spanish maestro has the most successful switches of play in the top 5 leagues and boasts a gem of a final ball, capable of splitting defenses in half.
With the ability to control game states and simultaneously add pause, Garcia is not required to scurry back in transition and clean up counterattacks; he is given the facilities to shine in possession.
This season, he has made seven goal contributions, even though he is seemingly occupying a pivot position. Such numbers testify not only to his talents but also to the fact that he is authorized to play higher up the pitch in the opposition half.
The 26-year-old can deliver immaculate poise under pressure and release runners in behind seamlessly. In fact, his lofted diagonals can change a team’s entire attacking dynamic.
Consequently, Barcelona would potentially be acquiring an incredibly competent midfielder who shares similarities with the likes of Pedri and Gundogan but would not drastically change the dynamics of the team unless he’s given the authority to do so.
In reality, that onus would still be falling on Xavi, who has paled in comparison to Michel, struggling to optimize his available players.
Should Barcelona bite the bullet and sign Garcia?
Having established that Aleix Garcia is not the solution to Barcelona’s problems, despite being one of the best in his business, the answer is not as straightforward as it seems.
If the team aspires to improve its depth by bringing in a player who can provide rest to both Pedri and Ilkay Gundogan, Garcia would be a perfect purchase. Rejecting the opportunity to sign someone as talented as him would be a misjudgment anyway.
Considering Pedri is repeatedly injured and Gundogan has been a regular face in the XI, more options can never hurt. Garcia is also fairly young, so he would not simply be a temporary pick-up.
But keeping the frail financial state in mind, opportunity costs will have to be made as Barcelona will be compelled to identify their priorities.
And right now, with Xavi’s current game style leaning towards chaos, a ball-winner like Gavi or Sergio Busquets is desperately needed to overshadow the recurring turnovers.
Therefore, it all comes down to the team’s needs. If Xavi persists with his high-voltage football, a ferocious ball-winner would be a more sensible buy. Otherwise, the way Pedri, Gundogan, and De Jong have struggled out of possession, Garcia would too.