3 possible replacements for Ousmane Dembele at Barcelona
It wasn't supposed to be like this. Barcelona, propelled by their talisman Lionel Messi and armed with a €120m (£101.7m) summer acquisition in Antoine Griezmann, intended to exact revenge after a forgettable finish to 2018-19 and finally win the Champions League - their first since 2015. After Tuesday's news broke about Ousmane Dembele's fitness, their quest to conquer Europe again just got a whole lot more difficult.
Luis Suarez's knee operation last month means he's sidelined for the rest of the campaign and now Dembele - out since November - will not feature again either. His participation in this summer's European Championships is now a serious doubt too.
Without further ado, here's a look at three potential Dembele replacements Barcelona might look to sign - either this coming summer or at some stage in the not-too-distant future:
#3 Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Starting with the oldest and most successful player on this list, Manchester City's Raheem Sterling is someone who has long attracted interest from suitors across Europe - though nothing has materialised yet. He turned 25 in December, is a two-time Premier League champion and developed significantly under Pep Guardiola's guidance in Manchester since making the brave move from Merseyside five years ago.
Sterling has 20 goals and a further six assists in 35 appearances this term, but the Cityzens' limp title defence hasn't helped his cause either: he's currently out-of-form and has yet to create any goal contributions in 2020 - six games across all competitions.
Bayern Munich and more recently Real Madrid, have been linked with the Englishman but there's no reason why a change of scenery and opportunity to play alongside Messi at Barcelona wouldn't intrigue him. After all, he's won all there is to win in England and departing for the La Liga champions would also provide a better chance of Champions League success - considering City's well-documented shortcomings in Europe.
City will hate to let him leave, though their efforts to get him into committing his long-term future have proven futile in recent months. He reportedly wants assurances Guardiola will do the same, which is understandable but unlikely given how this campaign has developed.
His existing deal expires in the summer of 2023, though if talks reach an impasse or he makes clear a desire to venture abroad for a new challenge a la Christian Eriksen, Barça could be tempted into completing an expensive swoop in.