What should be Barcelona’s summer transfer plans for next season?
A treble winning season followed by a domestic double. Barcelona fans witnessed yet another successful season. The only negatives being unable to win the sextuple and retaining Champions League.
The Catalans also managed to remain unbeaten for 39 games in a row, a club record. They have won 7 trophies out of the possible 9 under Luis Enrique. Though they had their ups and downs during the season, the Blaugrana's showed their character and fighting spirit.
Even though the Blaugrana’s struggled during the closing stages of the campaign, they ended the season on a high by clinching the La Liga and Copa del Rey titles. Considering the injuries, the amount of matches they had to play and transfer ban till January, Barca almost fulfilled all the expectations. But what should they be planning for the upcoming summer transfer window considering their limited budget and their requirements?
Barcelona are facing a defensive exodus this summer. Daniel Alves and Marc Bartra have already left the club. Douglas Pereira, Adriano Correia, Thomas Vermaelen and Javier Mascherano are all likely to lead the exodus with the first three not in the first team picture and Mascherano unhappy with the club as Barca didn't offer him a better contract.
Even the future of Jeremy Mathieu at the club remains uncertain as he wasn’t consistent throughout the season. Even the Frenchman’s performances haven’t been convincing enough for the fans.
Gerard Pique is close to reaching 30 years of age. Keeping that in mind, Barca should try and sign young centre-backs who can lead their defence in the future. Marquinhos and Aymeric Laporte at the moment don't seem to be legit options considering their transfer budget as both Paris St. Germain and Athletic Bilbao respectively holding out for more than €50 million.
Samuel Umtiti and Shkodran Mustafi seem to be the ideal signings taking into account their price tags and age. Samuel Umtiti’s versatility can also solve the problem of backup for the left back position. Umtiti will also bring some physicality to Barca’s defence, which they have lacked since the retirement of Carles Puyol.
Mustafi, meanwhile, has the experience of playing in La Liga for Valencia. As Valencia are facing a crisis over their financial stability, they might decide to sell Mustafi who has been rock solid in defence for them for a cut-price deal. As Luis Enrique prefers players with La Liga experience, the German ticks all the boxes.
In case they aren't able to sign any one of them, Mauricio Lemos looks like the one who can play the role of Marc Bartra as the 4th centre-half. The defender has just signed a permanent deal with Las Palmas, but the club are willing to sell him for €10-12 million. The Uruguayan defender is young and is tipped for big things and performed consistently well for Las Palmas after joining them on loan in January.
Also, the Catalans need to sign a replacement for Alves and not depend on Sergi Roberto to cover when the need arises. Elseid Hysaj and Fabinho seem to be more viable options than Hector Bellerin at the moment as the price quoted by Arsenal for the Spaniard is too high even though he was the Premier League’s best right-back last season. If the club prefers to give Aleix Vidal another chance, then Barcelona should not invest heavily for another right-back.
Re-signing Denis Suarez
The Catalans have one of the best midfields in Europe at the moment. Barcelona's midfield looks complete but with Arda Turan not yet able to adapt to the Barca's philosophy, Denis Suarez should be re-signed due to his versatility. The Villarreal man can cover for both Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta. If required, he can also deputise for Neymar and Messi on the wings. The club has also stated that they are willing to activate his buy-back clause after Denis Suarez had a great season with the Yellow Submarine.
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With Munir El Haddadi not able to totally convince Luis Enrique and Sandro sure to leave the club, the Catalans are short of players in this position. Kevin Gameiro seems to be the preferred option but considering his age and price quoted, he could prove to be a short-term and a costly signing.
Nolito too has been linked but he too is on the wrong side of his 20’s. Though he has a €18 million buy-out clause, he too looks like a temporary solution to their problem. Luciano Vietto, Antonio Sanabria, Riyad Mahrez and Andriy Yarmolenko look like the ones who Barcelona should be trying to sign at the moment.
They are young and have a bright future, As Luis Enrique likes to rotate his squad quite often, and these players could get some rare starts. If one of the above-mentioned players joins Barcelona this summer, Barca might decide to loan out Munir for the next season to help him gain some first team experience.
Another option for is Barca decide against loaning or selling Alen Halilovic. He is ready to play his role from the bench and it might be a good idea to give him some first team opportunities and spend that amount on a defender.
A busy summer awaits Barcelona ahead and hopefully, they make the most of it. They need to be smart and quick like Bayern Munich before their transfer targets are eyed upon by their competitors.