The transfer saga of the summer is finally over. Neymar left FC Barcelona and joined PSG after the Ligue 1 giants paid a reported €222 million to get the Brazilian winger. Yes, you read that right. Barcelona just received a whopping €222M for one of their best players.
Most of those funds will go directly into the team’s transfer budget. And even though they have to sign a replacement for Neymar, they will have enough money to spend elsewhere. And considering Barcelona have needs in other areas of the pitch, they are poised to make a huge splash in the transfer window.
Without further ado, here are four players Los Blaugranas could buy with the money they received for Neymar.
Ousmane Dembele: Valued at €33M, but would only leave for €100M
There has been a lot of talk regarding the potential replacements for Neymar. Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappe, Philippe Coutinho, Dele Alli, and even Antoine Griezmann have been mentioned as replacements. However, Ousmane Dembele has not gotten the attention he deserves. And even though the 21-year-old lacks a bit of experience, he would be the perfect replacement for Neymar.
First of all, he would be the cheaper option. Liverpool already rejected a €90M offer for Coutinho. AS Monaco want to receive around €180M for Mbappe. Alli and Hazard are valued at well over €100M. And Atletico are reportedly eyeing over €150M for Griezmann, a number that could increase considering Barcelona are direct rivals of Los Colchoneros. So if we are analysing things from a money perspective, Dembele makes a lot of sense.
Football-wise, the fit might be even more perfect. Dembele has emerged as one of the most promising wingers in all of Europe, and has superstar potential written all over him. He contributed with 10 goals and 21 assists in 49 matches last season, but did it as a secondary piece of a Dortmund side that had players such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Marco Reus upfront. As such, he probably wouldn’t have an issue playing a secondary role behind Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. And if we add that he’s only 21 years old, he has lots of years left to continue his growth.
Barcelona need to move quickly. If he plays even better this next season, he will quickly move out of anybody’s price range.
Kalidou Koulibaly: Valued at €30M, but Chelsea have rejected an offer up to €56M
Barcelona might not know it, but they need help on the defensive end. Most notably at the centre back position. They have Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique, but that’s it. Javier Mascherano is better suited to play as a defensive midfielder, and no one else on the current squad can play that position. Considering all the money they have, they would be wise to beef up defensively. And their best option would be to sign Kalidou Koulibaly.
The 26-year-old Senegal international does not have the world-class status that players such as Leonardo Bonucci or Mats Hummels have. However, he has emerged as one of the best centre backs in Europe. Koulibaly was a rock for Napoli last season, but he is much more than a strong defender. He is an aerial threat on both sides of the pitch. He can pass the ball accurately as well. And he doesn’t have a problem roaming forward on the pitch. He is quite similar to Umtiti and Pique, and he would be world-class backup for the two of them. In fact, he is quick enough to allow Barca to play with a three-man defensive line.
He would be expensive, though. Transfermarkt has him valued at €30 million, but Chelsea reportedly rejected a €56M bid for his services. Maybe Napoli can give Barca a discount, but he is not leaving Napoli for anything less than €55M.
Julian Weigl: Valued at €25M
One of the positions Barcelona are keen to improve is the role of a central midfielder. Marco Verratti and Paulinho have been linked with a Camp Nou move throughout the entire summer. However, neither player will leave his current club. And Barca should expand their range of alternatives.
One name that would fit with Barcelona’s movement towards youth is Julian Weigl. A 21-year-old defensive midfielder who has quickly emerged as a viable alternative for both Borussia Dortmund and the Germany national team, Weigl is an imposing physical presence in the middle of the pitch. But he is also composed with the ball on his feet, and can fill a number of roles. He can operate as a deep-lying playmaker, as a defensive enforcer in front of the defensive unit, or as a box-to-box midfielder who can link up Sergio Busquets with more attacking playmakers such as Andre Gomes or Ivan Rakitic.
Yes, the Dortmund midfielder would probably be a bit more expensive. But he is currently injured, and Barcelona could certainly sweeten the pot to avoid spending a higher sum for him. This is purely speculation, but Barca could easily offer someone like Andre Gomes + the €25M fee to land the Germany international. If we consider he will miss the start of the season due to injury, this could be a deal that makes sense for both sides.
Riyad Mahrez: €30M value, could offer up to €41M
If there is one player whose value has plummeted in recent months, that is Riyad Mahrez. The Leicester City star was one of the most sought-after players at the end of last season, but things have changed considerably. It could be due to motivation, or maybe he was just a one-year wonder. But his value has diminished, and so has his play. He does not look like the dominant playmaker that was key during Leicester’s impressive title run in 2016.
One would think Barcelona should move on and look for other alternatives. However, Mahrez seems like the perfect buy-low candidate. He could be a low-risk, high-reward signing. And he would fit perfectly in Ernesto Valverde’s squad.
One of the best things about Mahrez is his versatility. He played most of last season as a winger, but he can operate all over the attacking third. And if we consider the spaces are not as tight in Spain as they are in the Premier League, Mahrez would have far more space to operate in the final third. The Algerian international could thrive on the left wing, but he could line all over the final third. That kind of versatility is always needed.
Mahrez is valued at €30M according to Transfermarkt. AS Roma reportedly offered €35M to land him, but Leicester want at least €40M to let his star go. And if we are tight with his exercise, Barca would have enough money left to buy him.
And you? Who would you buy with the money Barcelona received? Apparently, the possibilities are endless.
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