Just over a month has passed since Barça’s humiliating defeat to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. A squad overhaul was promised and many of the senior players were to be moved on. However, the transfers from Barcelona have been underwhelming so far, with many deals left to be completed.
For several years now, culés have been desperate for better squad planning and a change in the starting eleven. Barcelona were suffering through the seasons as a lack of rotations and competition for places meant the same players were played every week. An ageing squad was unable to play the high-pressing, quick-passing style that has become accustomed to the Camp Nou.
It has taken the board three years of Champions League embarrassments and a trophyless season to finally realise the squad needs rebuilding. Though several players have recently completed moves away from Barça, there is yet to be any signings this transfer window.
Two years ago, it was reported that Barcelona received a bit of around €90 million for Ivan Rakitić. After two disappointing seasons, the Croatian was sold to league rivals Sevilla for €1.8 million with 9 in variables. Though it is a huge wage bill off the books, the Rakitić transfer could have been handled a lot better. Nonetheless, his departure will allow others to get more game time.
Arturo Vidal is the other midfielder that has recently secured a move away from the blaugranas. Though he played well during his spell at the club, it was another huge wage bill Barça needed to get off their books. Again, almost no money will be made from selling the Chilean as the board continue to show their incompetence in the transfer market.
It now seems like the end of Luis Suárez’s incredible career in Catalonia as a move to Atlético de Madrid is all but finalised. The number 9 has led the line for Barça for six seasons. In that time he has become the club’s third all-time highest goal scorer. His standout season came during the 2015/16 campaign where he won the Pichichi trophy. Suárez is leaving as a free agent, meaning the club will receive no money from his departure. It is a disappointing send-off for a club legend with his last game for the club an 8–2 loss.
Several exits could come in quick succession for Barcelona this week | Photo by Rafael Marchante/Pool via Getty Images
Finally, the only player to bring in any substantial money for the club this transfer window is Nélson Semedo. The right-back will sign for Wolves for a reported fee of €35–40 million. At the start of the transfer window, Josep Maria Bartomeu hailed the Portuguese defender as untouchable and would not be sold. It shows a lack of planning from the board once again.
In total, Barcelona have sold four first-team regulars for a total of roughly 40 million euros. It highlights how poorly this board manages Barcelona’s transfers.
Riqui Puig and Ansu Fati were promised they would become official first-team players by Bartomeu. So far, this has not been the case with Puig even being advised to leave to seek more minutes elsewhere on loan. The two youngsters have more than earned a role in the starting eleven. Both have excelled when given opportunities and are the future of the club, long after Bartomeu leaves. The lack of faith shown in them highlights a larger issue that academy players are being ignored under this board’s regime.
“It’s not true that [Riqui Puig] is not in our plans. They have to play. They can’t not be playing. Him, [Carles] Aleñá, Pedri…I have told them that it’s difficult for them and there’s lots of competition. Nothing more. I have told [Riqui Puig] that he has a future here, but it depends on the player. I’d recommend that he went out on loan. At 20 years of age, the young players have to play”Ronald Koeman, after Barcelona’s 1–0 win over Elche at the Trofeu Joan Gamper on Saturday
Similarly, Pedri and Carles Aleñá have already been warned that their minutes could be limited if they stay. Several Barça B team players have also been linked with a move away from the club. This comes as no surprise seeing the lack of opportunities and mistreatment of other talents such as Puig and Aleñá. Even with the departures of four first-team players, La Masía talents struggle to break into the first team.
The possible signings
Currently, Barcelona are being strongly linked with a new right-back to replace Semedo. This position desperately needs to be strengthened. Competition for Sergi Roberto at right-back is crucial. The favourites seem to be Sergiño Dest from Ajax and Max Aarons from Norwich. Both are highly rated full-backs that thrive at getting forward. Younger competition is needed and either player could make a good signing.
Eric García is also another player that is rumoured to be on Barça’s wishlist. The former academy player would make an excellent signing. He understands the system and is excellent at playing the ball out from the back. Now would be a good time to sign him considering he only has one year left on his contract and could learn a lot working with Gerard Piqué.
The other two players that have been linked with a move to the Camp Nou are Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum. The two Netherlands internationals are great players, but their signings seem unnecessary. Depay could be useful as a striker but there are already a lot of options in attack. Wijnaldum is a composed midfielder but his signing would not make sense. If there are already limited minutes available for players like Puig, Aleñá and Pedri, then Wijnaldum is clearly not needed.
The transfers from Barcelona have been slow so far. There has been difficulty in selling players due to their extortionate wages. Additionally, the rejuvenation of the squad has only partly been achieved. The defence of the Roma, Liverpool and Bayern disasters remains almost unchanged.
It is evident that there have been limited funds with players having to be sold first before signings can be made. Now that a number of first-team players have departed, any available money should be reinvested into the defence.
Three Economical Memphis Depay Alternatives Barcelona Must Chase
Memphis Depay, while still an option, might end up as nothing but another story of ‘what could have been’. Barça Universal takes a look at three options who the club can pursue instead of the Dutchman.
The 2020-21 season under Ronald Koeman is well and truly underway. Barcelona have begun their run in two competitions so far, having played four games in the League and the lone game against Ferencvaros in the Champions League. The start has been rocky, but promising.
A renewed squad has brought some much-needed revitalisation in the side. However, there is one department where the team have clearly lacked: centre-forward. The departure of Luis Suarez was undoubtedly needed, but it necessitated a backup in place. Having failed to acquire the services of Memphis Depay in the recent transfer window, the Blaugrana have struggled in the absence of a striker, often leaving a gaping hole ahead of the opposition backline.
🗣 — Koeman: "I don't have the power to sign Depay, it depends on the club. All I can do is wait. We wanted Memphis because he is a great player and has qualities that, in my opinion, we lack like depth in our attack." pic.twitter.com/vpshfDApFP— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) October 18, 2020
Culés over the last few seasons have been accustomed to the managers playing down any rumours of transfers. Any questions on potential signings brought out the cliched response: “We do not talk about players of other clubs”. Koeman’s press conferences are a sudden whiff of fresh air. He is a man who is blunt to the press and speaks without riddles. He has made it clear on multiple occasions that he desires the services of Memphis Depay to rejuvenate the #9 role.
With the club in an unpleasant position financially, here are three possible alternatives that Barcelona can eye in the upcoming window, who may fit the profile better than Depay.
Note: The criteria we are using is based on financial terms alone. All options listed could be available for less than €25 million in the next two windows – i.e. if the respective club is ready to sell.
Daka is a baller; and he proves it every match. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
The stocks of Red Bulls Salzburg have been on the constant rise. They are slowly, yet convincingly establishing themselves as a hub the nurtures some of the finest talents in Europe.
One of the clubs recent successes, Erling Haaland, has set the world ablaze at Borussia Dortmund. And since the Norweigan’s departure, a young 22-year-old has taken over the goal-scoring reigns. Presenting, Patson Daka.
In 2019-20, Daka found the back of the net 24 times in just 31 league games. His six assists further enhance the stats, considering that the Zambian started only 21 games.
His fearlessness and spatial awareness make him a massive asset. While his finishing prowess is conspicuous, he also possesses great skill with off the ball moments. The youngster has taken 48% of his shots with his right boot, and close to 40% with the left. This ambidexterity is a rare and valued skill that very few strikers possess.
Last season, Patson outperformed his xG tally by 6.48, also averaging the highest xG per 90(0.79). A conversion rate of 30% at the age of 22 is more than what one could dream of. However, in addition to his crude finishing, Daka’s ability to create chances is what makes him a viable option for Barcelona. This is exemplified in his 0.86 key passes per game. Patson Daka is certainly one for the Barcelona scouts to fix their eyes on.
Edouard is the perfect blend of top-notch technical and physical prowess. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Odsonne Edouard is a product of Paris Saint-Germain’s youth academy who has made a case himself to be considered amongst the creme-de-la-creme of Europe’s pedigree. The youngster currently plays in the Scottish Premiership for the champions Celtic, ending the COVID curtailed 2019-20 season as the top scorer with 20 goals in just 24 starts.
Edouard is not just a finisher but a well-rounded player. The goals flow freely from the Frenchman as long as he is provided with the right service. The 22-year-old outscored his xG by 5.08 in the last season with 40% shots on target. However, even with the goals removed, Edouard is a sensational asset.
His dribbling prowess is matched by few, with a staggering 7.17 dribbles per 90. In the air, the Frenchman provides a potent threat with his physique and height. The statistics speak for themselves; 3.9 aerial duels per 90, winning 40% of them.
He also finds himself amongst the very top players with close to 6.5 touches in the box and two progressive runs per 90, a profile that the Catalans require so desperately. His move to a top club is just around the corner, and Camp Nou might end up as a win-win situation for all parties involved.
There is work to be done with Morelos, but with the right guidance, there is nothing stopping him. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
The Rangers #20 – Alfredo Morelos – takes the third and final spot in this list of potential targets for Barcelona. His finishing trade is nowhere close to the aforementioned two. That said, what makes him a great choice for Barcelona, however, is his heavy involvement in the buildup, as seen in his 17.9 off the ball actions per 90.
He is a massive part of the Rangers team that finally looks ready to displace Celtic from the top spot. He ended the last season with 12 goals in 18 starts. Despite having one of the highest xG per 90(0.75 per 90), his conversion rate is staggeringly low. At the young age of 24, he still has considerable time to mend his flaws, though.
The Colombian averages 5.63 shots per 90 and is also well equipped in dribbling. The talent is there, however it requires the right investment. His days in Scotland seem to be numbered. With Barcelona too looking at a long term project, an investment of less than €20M may be a gamble worth taking.
Going by Ronald Koeman’s words, the Memphis Depay to Barcelona deal only seems to be a matter of time, and the likelihood of the former Manchester United man coming to the camp now increases with every passing second. Nevertheless, the club should consider other economic investments that may give a bigger long term influence, while acting as a pure no. 9 that Barça crave for. Patson Daka, Odsonne Edouard and Alfredo Morelos are just three of the countless young talents out there. Which direction will this board take?