LaLiga 2018-19: How will things shape up if Barcelona get Adrien Rabiot too?
Barcelona's backroom has been recruiting some incredible midfield talent of late. And more importantly, they have been targeting players in the under-23 bracket. The board has expertly picked three players to recreate a dominant, possession-based midfield that Barcelona fans became used to during the Xavi and Iniesta era.
The first young central midfielder they recruited was Arthur Melo, 22, from Gremio, for 31 million euros. He had been one of the best players in the Brazilian Serie A for a couple years, but his lack of goal output kept him in the shadows more than the likes of Gabigol and Gabriel Jesus. Now that he's made the move to Barca, however, he has shown his world class ability on the global stage.
Melo's biggest assets are his extreme close control and range of passing, making it so he is hardly ever dispossessed; he has only lost the ball 0.6 times per game in LaLiga this season. Moreover, his 94.5% pass accuracy is the highest in the squad, if you don't include Samuel Umtiti, who has hardly played a game this season.
The next player to add to their prospective midfield three is Frenkie de Jong, 21. The move was made official in the January transfer window for 75 million euros, but he won't join Barcelona until the summer.
De Jong has a very interesting skill set that has made him one of the most highly rated youngsters in Europe. There are not many players who posses his technical ability and defensive sturdiness.
As with Arthur, De Jong is built for the Barcelona way. With his dribbling ability and movement off the ball, he is excellent at exploiting space for himself and his teammates. That has allowed him to contribute 79.7 passes per game at a 91.9% pass accuracy this season, all while boasting 3 tackles and interceptions per game.
The last player to complete Barcelona's next generation midfield trio is Adrien Rabiot, 23. He is the only one of the three that has yet to sign a contract with Barcelona, but his contract with PSG will be up in the summer and he reportedly has no intention of signing a new one with them.
Barcelona are well aware of the situation and if the rumors are true, Rabiot's first choice is Barcelona. His attributes are very similar to the other two midfielders, except he is taller at 6 foot 2. He relies more on his ability to use his body and excellent first touches to open space when dribbling, completing 1.1 a game in Ligue 1 this season.
It's his vision and consistency with his passes however, that have made Barcelona so keen on him. He's managed 74.8 passes per game with a 93.1% pass accuracy in Ligue 1 this season. And he doesn't just play the simple ball either; he has 3.4 long balls per game and 0.4 key passes per game.
Overall, Rabiot is a complete midfielder with world-class passing. At 23, he could play a vital role for Barcelona for many years to come.
All three of these midfielders are masterful passers, who are rarely dispossessed. Those are qualities that are required in a Barcelona system.
If Barcelona do secure Rabiot, it will make for an incredible footballing spectacle. Their board is clearly building for the future, and with Rakitic, Busquets and Vidal all 30 years of age or older, it's the perfect time to pass the torch.