Is Barcelona's midfield really overcrowded?
Pep Guardiola's Barcelona, mostly remembered for their record-breaking sextuple season, managed to so primarily because it harbored the fabled Xavi, Iniesta, and Busquets in midfield.
Barcelona's ideology has always been to dictate the flow of the game at the center of the pitch and attack through gaps in the opposition defense with the help of their immaculate understanding with each other. When the ball is lost, the high press, once again in the midfield, help them retrieve it.
Guardiola's Barcelona had Busquets mainly to win back the ball and offer stability at the lower midfield, Xavi to dictate the pace of the game, maintain possession and offer massive creativity, and Iniesta to use the magic at his feet to carry the ball from the center of the pitch to the attackers.
Since Xavi left, Barcelona never found an able replacement for the Spanish maestro. By the time they got Arthur (a slightly less developed version of Xavi, but capable of filling his boots with experience), Iniesta had left, and then they got into the search for an Iniesta replacement. Realizing the mistake they had made in not considering the future of the club, they started looking for a replacement for Busquets too.
Now if you see the midfield options for Valverde, undeniably it looks crowded. There are too many players in too few spaces.
Look at the squad next year, it will look much more balanced. Look at it 2 years from now, and you will thank this board for all it has done. The next year's midfield will be the closest to the XIB combo they have had in years, and 2 years from now, even in terms of delivery.
The current options are Vidal, Rakitic, Busquets, Coutinho, Arthur, De Jong, Puig, Alena, Rafinha, Denis(on loan)
Vidal is at the twilight of his career, don't hope for him to stick around too long. Also, it's quite clear that Coutinho has no future in the Midfield of Barcelona. He had to build one at LWF position if he wants a future at the club.
Rakitic, Rafinha, and Denis will most probably not stay past the summer transfer window and look more certain after Bartomeu's apparent commitments to De Jong.
What Barcelona effectively have left are Busquets, Arthur, De Jong, Alena, Puig, Roberto, Samper/Oriol (if played in his natural position by then at least).
The plan clearly is to play Arthur in place of Xavi, Alena/Puig in place of Don Andres, and De Jong in place of Busquets. Though De Jong looks more of an Iniesta-esque player, he has been bought with the idea that he will replace Busquets. Even if he fails to do so, he will be shifted up, and the club still has Samper/Oriol to cover up the DMF role.
The only return query is does it still look crowded?