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6 players who could leave Barcelona in the January transfer window

Ousmane Dembele could be one of several players to leave Barcelona in the January transfer window
Ousmane Dembele could be one of several players to leave Barcelona in the January transfer window
ANALYST
Modified 20 Nov 2020, 10:43 IST
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After enduring a 2-8 humbling against eventual champions Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals last season, Barcelona endured their first trophyless season in more than a decade.

Barcelona squandered a slender lead atop the La Liga table to arch-rivals Real Madrid in the post-lockdown restart; the Blaugrana suffered elimination in the Copa Del Rey quarter-finals and were beaten in the semi-finals of the Super Copa de Espana.

Clearly, something had to give as it was a remarkably indifferent season for a club of such rich pedigree and history. Barcelona knew there were issues galore, both on and off the field, that led to their spectacular fall from grace: an ageing squad and a porous defence, to name a few.

The cracks in the squad had suddenly become too gaping for the singular brilliance of Lionel Messi to paper over. And of course, the manager was shown the boot, and former player Ronald Koeman was ushered in as the new one.

As a painful summer of introspection for Barcelona lay ahead, the club's woes exacerbated when the unthinkable happened: captain and talisman Lionel Messi expressed his desire to leave the club.

It was Messi of all people - the player who has only played for one professional club - Barcelona; Messi, who is one of the last vestiges of the rapidly dwindling true one-club player in the modern game. Much to Barcelona's eventual relief, Messi agreed to see out the one remaining year of his contract.

6 players who may leave Barcelona in the January transfer window

The Messi situation is resolved for now but with a new manager at the helm, the road ahead for Barcelona was always going to be a tricky one.

It got trickier still as the COVID-19 pandemic wrecked the finances of the club. That essentially meant that a huge squad overhaul at the Camp Nou - perhaps a crying need of the hour - was out of the question. Koeman couldn't start afresh. He had to make do with the resources at his disposal.

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Barcelona needed to sell players to be able to buy new ones. Players deemed surplus to requirements were soon identified. Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Arthur Melo and Arturo Vidal bid adieu and Miralem Pjanic, Trincao and Sergino Dest arrived.

However, Barcelona have made an indifferent start to the season; they lie eighth in the league table after seven games. Lionel Messi has made an uncharacteristically slow start to the season; Antoine Griezmann has continued to misfire; Ter Stegen has only just returned to the first team after an injury.

If that was not enough, the promising Ansu Fati, who made a blistering start to the campaign, has been laid low by a long-term injury to further compound Barcelona's woes. It is now looking increasingly likely that the club would be active during the upcoming January transfer window.

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On that note, let us have a look at six players, in no particular order, that Barcelona could jettison in the January transfer window.

#6 Samuel Umtiti

Samuel Umtiti
Samuel Umtiti

Samuel Umtiti has been a peripheral presence at Barcelona for quite a while.

A slew of injuries meant that the French center-back managed only 27 cumulative La Liga appearances for Barcelona in the last two seasons. He made almost as many appearances in each of his previous two seasons at the club.

Umtiti, who is yet to appear under Koeman this season, was recognized as one of the deadwood at the club and could have departed for Lyon in the summer, but the move didn't materialize.

The 27-year-old, who won the 2018 FIFA World Cup with France, doesn't look resigned to his fate and expressed his desire to fight for his place when he recently said:

"There were discussions, but it was quick, nothing concrete. I had to be able to speak with a club. I'll be honest: Barcelona is Barcelona. I don't want to leave Barcelona and even less like that. The last two years have been the most complicated of my career. Sometimes I got really sick of it. I relapsed each time, and with different injuries because I was trying to compensate. It wasn't a knee problem, it was that I had a total imbalance. I had to start over."
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Once considered an 'irreplaceable' player, Umtiti, who has made over 100 appearances for the club, has slid down the pecking order at Barcelona.

Umtiti has not played for Barcelona since June and considering his injury woes, it looks increasingly likely that he might have already played his last game for the club.


#5 Carles Alena

Carles Alena
Carles Alena

Since making 17 appearances in Barcelona's victorious 2018-19 campaign, Carles Alena has seen reduced game-time at the club.

The 23-year-old midfielder played only four league games for Barcelona last season before departing on a six-month loan stint at Real Betis, where he managed 17 more league appearances.

Alena, who has since returned to the club, was 'unhappy' that his jersey number was given to new arrival Frenkie de Jong. However, the player has since inherited the number six jersey worn by club legend Xavi Hernandez.

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Nevertheless, Alena remains far from enthused as he thinks that then-Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu reneged on a promise to provide the midfielder more game-time at the club.

Despite the exit of Bartomeu, Alena has made only one appearance (Champions League) all season. That makes it likely that the player could depart Barcelona in January, with Real Betis a likely destination.

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Published 20 Nov 2020, 08:55 IST
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