The summer of 2021 represents a transfer of power from the neglectful reign of Josep Maria Bartomeu over to a new era of hope led by newly elected Joan Laporta. This summer is the first chance the new president will make decisions that will affect results on the field, and it would be an understatement to say that the former president has left Laporta with some work to do.
Barcelona currently find themselves over €1 billion in debt, and Laporta has been working behind the scenes to find ways of reducing this and recently secured a loan deal with American investment bank Goldman Sachs for a sum of €500 million. However, the Spaniard will not rely solely on this, and therefore, reducing the wage bill, and selling players will be the other methods to reduce their liability.
Reports are stating that only five Barca players are deemed ‘untouchable’ this summer, with Ronald Araujo, Ansu Fati, Pedri, Frenkie de Jong, and Lionel Messi being the names mentioned. This leaves everyone else in the squad open for negotiations, which will create funds for the Catalan side to go and sign a much-needed marquee player.
Barca fans will need to be patient with Laporta this summer, as the debt currently overshadows everything the Spaniard wants to achieve with the club on the field next season. Incoming signings might be slim and underwhelming, but the outgoing transfers will play a big role in getting Barcelona back to the top of European football due to the funds they will generate.
That said, here are the three players Barcelona should definitely look to sell this summer.
Out of all the transferable players in the Barcelona squad, Ousmane Dembélé’s situation is certainly the most complicated. Joan Laporta wants the Frenchman to stay under new terms, as he sees the player’s style as different from the rest of the Barcelona squad. The Spaniard will also be aware of giving away a player with so much potential and would be kicking himself should Dembélé peak at another club.
On the other hand, the World Cup winner is a valuable asset because of this potential and age. The Catalan giants would receive a large fee for a player who has yet to light up the Camp Nou consistently — which would go a long way in strengthening next season.
The worry for Laporta is that Dembélé leaves next season on a free when his contract expires, which will only benefit the French international’s potential destination. Therefore, the president will need to quickly resolve this situation, as the window for a potential transfer is tight.
Since arriving from Borussia Dortmund Dembélé has not lived up to the hype that preceded him upon arrival. The World Cup winners time at the Camp Nou has been injury-ridden and when the winger has taken the field, his performances have been inconsistent. The problem associated with Dembélé is that his talent is very visible and although some Barca fans have lost patience, others still cling on to these glimpses of talent, with Laporta falling into the latter.
Dembélé enjoyed this season almost injury-free and played the most games he has ever played in a single season for Barca. The 24-year-old contributed with goals in big moments and finished the season third on the Catalan side’s top scorers list, making the transfer a little pessimistic. However, his seeming to go back and forth on wanting to renew coupled with the economic difficulty may point towards a bleak future for the winger.
If Laporta can convince Dembélé to sign a new contract, then Barca keeps a young player with bags of potential. If the 24-year-old does not sign a contract, the situation becomes very clear, with Barcelona needing to raise funds. The outlier is that Dembélé could run down his contract and leave next summer for free – a situation Laporta and everyone else associated with Barcelona will fear.
A deal was done for all the wrong reasons, and there is irony in how it did not work out. The story goes to the back end of last season when former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu sold Arthur Melo to Juventus for an initial €72 million and brought Miralem Pjanic the other way for €65 million.
This deal was not a result of the former president wanting the Bosnian midfielder, but it was a way of balancing the books before the end of the financial year (end of June) – saving the board of directors from paying 15% of their losses. At the end of the season, Bartomeu appointed Ronald Koeman as the Catalan sides new manager, and throughout the season, the Dutchman did not consider Pjanic part of his plans.
Pjanic played 30 games this season in all competitions, starting only 13 games and completing the full 90 only five times. The 31-year-old finished the season with zero goal contributions, and it is fair to say that the Bosnian had zero impact on Barcelona’s season. Not what you would expect from a €65 million signing.
When Pjanic did play, he offered very little, but the Bosnian could have contributed more if given a chance, as his ability to shoot from distance might have helped Barcelona this season towards the end of tight games. When it came to Barcelona’s midfield this season, it was almost a closed shop with Koeman stubbornly sticking to his preferred three.
With Koeman’s confirmed continuation, this already leaves Pjanic halfway out the door despite the midfielder leaving the door open to the possibility of staying with his latest comments. The 31-year-old said in an interview: “Leaving Barcelona? It’s hard to talk about that now. I’m spending the holidays with my family and that’s all I’m thinking about at the moment. The preparations for the new season start in July and then I’ll join the team. We’ll see what happens later.”
Despite these comments, Barcelona should sell Pjanic. The 31-year-old is not part of Koeman’s plans or Barcelona’s long-term structure, and his massive wages will clear up a lot of space in the books. Joan Laporta will be hoping to get a decent fee for the midfielder with many clubs, such as Juventus and Everton reportedly interested in the Bosnian international.
From the moment the outside of Sergi Roberto’s foot connected with Neymar Jr’s left-footed cross on the night of March 8th, 2017, the La Masia graduate was destined never to be forgotten by the Camp Nou faithful.
Fast forward four years, and although Roberto will never be forgotten, the love the 29-year-old once experienced has now evaporated amongst most Barcelona fans. Instead, frustration seems to arise every time the defender plays.
Roberto has had a fabulous career with Barcelona, but with the club, he loves going through a tough period; his age, wages, injuries, and lack of impact have become somewhat of a burden. This summer looks like the perfect opportunity for the versatile defender to move on, with Barcelona covered in his position and needing the money for other transfers.
Last season was a horrendous campaign for Roberto, who played just 20 times in all competitions and started just 12 of them because of a series of injuries. When fit, the 29-year-olds performances ranged from ok to poor, and it became more apparent that Sergi Roberto is just not at the required level anymore, and his time at the club must end. However, it did not go unnoticed that every time he was available, Ronald Koeman played him – most likely due to a lack of options.
With the signing of Emerson and Sergino Dest already at the club, Barca now has options, and Roberto’s services are no longer needed. Mr Remontada has stated that he wants to stay next season and see out his contract, but Barcelona, as stressed many times in this article, need the money and cannot afford to let the Spaniard go on for free next summer.
The latest reports have claimed that Roberto could be included in a swap deal for Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte. With Barca needing another top-class centre back, this would be seen as a good move by the Catalan giants. But, aside from that, there are other suitors for the midfielder-turned-defender too.
No matter what the deal is, Barcelona needs to move on from Sergi Roberto. His age, injury record and lack of impact do not warrant the salary he is on and with clubs interested, Joan Laporta could collect at least €20 million to put towards other expenses.
There is a whole host of challenges that Joan Laporta has to tackle in his second tenure as club president, perhaps even more daunting than the first. Barcelona have been run into the ground, both financially and organisationally. To solve the first of those issues, it is imperative that quite a few players need to be sold at any cost, starting with those mentioned above.