Barcelona summer transfer targets: Lautaro, Aubameyang & the players on club wish list
Josep Maria Bartomeu told TV3 earlier this month, "The result of our transfer business has not been the one we wanted."
Barcelona's dealings over the past five years have been a disaster.
Consequently, their squad is lacking in quality and numbers, as so painfully underlined by the presence of just five players on the bench for their final fixture of a turbulent La Liga campaign.
After years of gross mismanagement at every level of the club, club captain Lionel Messi has now had enough.
As well as demanding change after an embarrassing loss at home to Osasuna, the Argentine is also refusing to commit to extending his stay at Camp Nou beyond the expiration of his current contract in 2021.
Consequently, it is absolutely imperative that Barca address the glaring deficiencies in what Messi calls a "very erratic, very week, low-intensity team" during the upcoming transfer window.
Bartomeu has promised that the Blaugrana will again be "market-movers" but, given the way in which the club's precarious financial situation has been exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, he is going to have to get very creative...
In a desperate bid to meet their budgetary plan for 2019-20, Barcelona essentially swapped Arthur Melo with Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic.
The Italians agreed to pay €72 million (£66m/$81m) for the Brazilian, while the Bosnian was valued at €60m (£55m/$70m). The fees felt inflated, and the €12m profit allowed Barca to balance their books before June 30.
The sporting merits of trading a 23-year-old for a 30-year-old never really came into the equation; it was all about financial requirements.
Barca do believe that Lautaro Martinez would significantly strengthen their squad, though. The Argentine striker is young, hungry and adored by his compatriot Messi.
Barca were never going to be in a position to meet his €111m (£101m/$129m) buyout clause before this month's deadline, but the Catalans remain confident of landing their primary transfer target.
Inter are expected to belatedly accept €60m and Junior Firpo in exchange for their most prized possession.
If Inter refuse to budge, though, the Blaugrana will try to sign either Arsenal's free-scoring forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexander Isak, who has impressed at Real Sociedad this year.
In midfield, the exciting Riqui Puig is, just like his fellow academy graduate Fati, expected to be promoted to the senior squad on a full-time basis, so Pjanic is looking like the only significant addition to the engine room, even though Napoli's Fabian Ruiz has numerous admirers at the club.
Barca, though, covet a quality centre-half, with Gerard Pique now 33 and Samuel Umtiti increasingly prone to injury.
Matthijs de Ligt was – and remains – the dream, but the Dutchman has now settled in well at Juventus after a slow start to his Serie A career.
Consequently, Barca are looking at the likes of Milan Skriniar, Luiz Felipe, Eric Garcia and Sergino Dest to add to their defensive options.
In goal, Ajax No.1 Andre Onana would be considered as a back-up to Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but only if Neto leaves.
Who could leave this summer? The easiest way to answer that question is listing the players who willdefinitely stay: Messi, Ter Stegen, Clement Lenglet, Pique, Frenkie de Jong and Sergi Roberto.
Every other player in the squad has his price, including the three most expensive players in Barca history: Philippe Coutinho, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele.
Griezmann certainly is notbeing pushed towards the exit, as there is a lot of sympathy for a world-class performer who walked into a mess this season.
There is also a belief that Dembele could yet come good if he manages to finally overcome his persistent injury problems.
A massive offer for either would certainly be entertained, though.
However, it is only Coutinho who simply has to be sold, with even Bartomeu admitting that the Brazil international "hasn't worked out".
Barca have to find a buyer for the attacking midfielder, who is a massive strain on the club with the biggest wage bill in world football (£453m/$589m), and the club is now willing to take a massive hit on a player signed for a staggering €160m from Liverpool just two years ago.
Arturo Vidal, meanwhile, remains a polarising figure among the supporters,but it seems increasingly likely that he will stay put.
Still, the Chile international could yet be used as a makeweight in one of the player-plus-cash deals Barca must now embrace.
Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Luis Suarez are unlikely to attract any big bids, given their respective ages, meaning transfers are unlikely.
But Barca will do their utmost to offload Neto, Samuel Umtiti, Jean-Clair Todibo, Ivan Rakitic, Carles Alena, Rafinha and Martin Braithwaite to free up funds for next season's coach...
Predicting the starting XI for 20201-21 is somewhat complicated by the fact that we do notyet know who will be picking the team.
There isalmost no chance of Quique Setien still being at the helm, though, after a dismal end to Barca's Liga title defence.
Bartomeu had hoped to persuade Xavi to take over, but the club legend's view remains as the same as it was when he said no in January: he wants to be part of the start of new era; not the end of one.
Consequently, Bartomeu is now considering turning to former Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc or ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Still, in spite of all of the coaching uncertainty, Barca would most likely play in their beloved 4-3-3 formation anyway, and, given the lack of major summer deals, the line-up might not be too dissimilar to this season's.
The back five is unlikely to change too much but the hope will be that Riqui is ready to rejuvenate the midfield and that Lautaro can be signed to usurp Suarez in attack.
Source : goal.com
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