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Should Barcelona sell or keep Emerson?

With links to AC Milan, should Barcelona look to sell right-back Emerson?

Javier Giorgetti

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Header Image by Cordon Press via Imago

Young right-back Emerson de Souza is experiencing a great moment in his professional career. Little by little his evolution has caused interest from the European giants. He is currently on loan at Real Betis from Barcelona, but the Catalan club has the player’s rights to decide whether to sell or keep Emerson.


Emerson de Souza has gone from being the breakthrough full-back of La Liga and one of the candidates to occupy the so often questioned right-back position at Barcelona next season, to being a market piece due to the pressing financial problems of both Real Betis, where he has been playing on loan for the past year and a half, and Barça, who own his rights.

As both clubs intend to finding him a team in order to strengthen their weakened economy, AC Milan is the club that has shown the most interest in acquiring his services. According to several sources, the agents of the Brazilian, Graziano Battistini and Sebastiano Salaroli, have been meeting in the last days with Milan’s board to discuss the future of the player, whose cost could be of around 30 million euros.

Yet, despite the interest from the historic Italian club, there are unknowns that need to be cleared about the 21-year-old. Should Barcelona sell Emerson, or would he be a useful addition for the Catalans?

At Barça, Nélson Semedo apparently is in the transfer list despite talks over a potential renewal from the Portuguese. Meanwhile, Sergi Roberto has lately been having more participation in midfield, so Quique Setién’s team would be missing a right-back. Likewise, Moussa Wagué will return from his loan in Nice, but he is expected to leave permanently or on loan.

Emerson de Sourza was signed by Barcelona in early 2019 and has been on loan at Real Betis ever since. The operation for the former Atlético Mineiro defender was carried out for 12 million euros, in which Barça paid 6 million and Betis another 6 million. However, in such deal it was agreed that, when Emerson returned to Barcelona in 2021, the verdiblancos would recover those 6 million previously invested in him.

The links with AC Milan completely change the situation, though. It is a movement that would favour economically both institutions. The Barcelona board is ready to negotiate the departure of Emerson for a starting price of 30 million euros, 6 million of which would go to Real Betis, with the remaining 24 million being kept by the blaugranas.

On the one hand, Betis would recover its investment and avoid the need to sell stars like Sergio Canales or Nabir Fekir. On the other hand, Barça would double the value of a player who has not even played for the club and would greatly help in the economical aspect.

Nevertheless, Emerson has attributes that make him an exciting prospect with great potential. His attacking nature, runs, explosiveness in attack, physical condition and tenacious work in defence could make him a player to consider for Barcelona. If the Spaniards were to sell to Semedo, Emerson would be the perfect option to replace him. That said, both could even share out minutes in Catalonia if Sergi Roberto was moved permanently to midfield and Wagué left.

For Barcelona it could be ideal to give Emerson a chance and, in order not to harm Real Betis, who intend to sell him anyway, the culés could choose to end the loan a year earlier, paying 6 million to Betis, and give Quique Setién another weapon at right-back. In this way, Sergi Roberto would have a permanent place in midfield, Semedo would have some good competition, and Barça another quality right-back without the need of paying large amounts of money for someone like João Cancelo.


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Three potential loan destinations for Riqui Puig

Adithya Eshwarla

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Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Barça Universal takes a closer look at three clubs who could latch-up fan-favourite Riqui Puig on loan this January as the youngster is in the hunt for more playing time.


For all the numerous rapid changes taking place in the world, there seems to be the one constant: Riqui Puig just can’t manage to get minutes under his belt. For all the hype built around the talented prodigy at the back end of last season, Ronald Koeman seems reluctant to budge.

Before the commencement of the season, the Dutchman asked Puig to go out on loan to get as many minutes of game time as possible. The youngster blatantly refused, confident that he would indeed get his chance to impress. Yet, more than two months into the season and the 21-year-old has only seen 11 minutes of action.

Undoubtedly, he is at the age where he needs continuous playing time to grow and develop as a footballer. There is a growing sentiment that going out on loan to continue playing and developing remains the best bet for Puig. Losing his permanently, though, would be a huge mistake. Barça Universal takes a look at three potential teams the youngster could go to in order to earn some much-needed playing time under his belt.

Villarreal CF

Nine games into the season and Unai Emery’s men find themselves trailing league leaders Real Sociedad just by the two points. Sitting proudly at second, the yellow submarines have had just the one loss so far, which came against Barcelona.

A glance at the Villareal midfield, however, provides interesting findings. Undoubtedly, Dani Parejo has been the leader in the middle of the park. Samuel Chukwueze, Gerard Moreno and Moi Gomes being the go-to options at wide midfield.

Dani Parejo

The chance to learn from Dani Parejo will be massive for Puig. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

However, apart from the 29-year-old duo Francis Coquelin and Manu Trigueros, the options seem feeble. On the occasions when Vincente Iborra has played, the team has operated in a 4-1-4-1. This too opens up another spot for a creative midfielder.

Though Villareal has averaged close to 60% possession this season, they have only scored ten goals from open play in nice games. With just over two big chances created per game, there is a need for a midfielder who can break the lines, yet fit into the plans Emery has for the club.

The midfield as a unit has failed to conjure up opportunities, reflected by the fact that the captain Mario Gaspar has created the most ‘big chances’ while playing out from the right-back position.

Riqui Puig could fill the holes in Unai Emery’s side. The youngster could comfortably slot into a role alongside Parejo and replace the likes of Coquelin or Trigueros. His high press and comfort on the ball make him an ideal candidate for the Yellow Submarines.

Additionally, Barcelona stands to gain too, with the player staying in the Spanish first division and gaining invaluable minutes. It would be a deal that works out well for the player too, as he would avoid the hassle of moving to a new country. Could this be a win-win?

Bayer 04 Leverkusen

The Leverkusen based side sit at fourth in the Bundesliga and are currently among the handful of unbeaten sides in the top five leagues. They play a similar style of possession-based, football, powered by swift attacks, much like Luis Enrique’s Barcelona. They play a very organized game in possession, with meaningful forward progression of the ball given paramount importance.

Peter Bosz

Peter Bosz’s fluid attacking style of football will easily accommodate Puig, even if the language barrier is problematic. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)

Peter Bosz has exclusively fielded a 4-1-4-1 in the Bundesliga, but the 4-2-3-1 has come into the equation for the Europa League fixtures. The team aim to capitalise on short central passes by establishing a numerical superiority in the midfield and the halfspaces. Leverkusen requires its players to be tactically well versed with tremendous composure on the ball; something Puig possesses in spades.

Bosz has had to rotate among Florian Wirtz, Kerem Demirbay, and Nadiem Amiri as his creative midfielders. The departure of Kai Havertz to Chelsea has seen them lose a key component of their midfield creativity.

With €20M signing Exequiel Palacios not particularly impressing, and Paulinho out for several months after rupturing his ACL, taking in Riqui Puig on loan may prove to be a masterstroke,

Manchester City

The most unlikely of the three options, but the most glamorous and promising one. Manchester City has endured a tough start to the season, languishing six points behind league leaders Leicester. They have some of the most skilled midfielders, with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Rodri in their ranks.

Yet, there seems to be a void created by the departure of David Silva, which they have been unable to fill right now. City have been associated in recent years with ruthlessly thumping in goal after goal. Now, however, they stare at just nine goals from open play in seven encounters in the league.

Puig may not be a starter at Manchester City. Yet, even appearances off the bench would be an upgrade to his treatment at Barcelona. The idea of working with Pep Guardiola, who just signed a contract extension, and learning from some of the best in the business in de Bruyne would prove to be a tempting option for Puig. It is certainly the least likely of the three, yet the most exciting.

Kevin de Bruyne Pep Guardiola

Learning from Pep Guardiola and Kevin de Bruyne, albeit on loan, is too enticing to pass up on for Puig if the chance ever arrives. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Conclusion

At the age of 21, Riqui Puig cannot while away the key years of his development on the bench. It is heartbreaking that there seems no other option. Yet, given how firm Koeman seems on his decision, maybe a move-out, hopefully only on loan, would be in the best interest of both Barcelona and Riqui Puig.

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