Friday, July 21, 2017

Verratti, Coutinho, Bellerin? Who will Barcelona sign this summer?

Gill Clark in Editorial, La Liga 11 May 2017

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It’s fair to say Barcelona have fallen short of their usual stratospheric standards this season. Real Madrid remain favourites to take their Liga crown, their Champions League campaign was ended by Juventus and while they may be 1/6 favourites to lift the Copa del Rey – the club will want more.

Barca have not fared well in the transfer market in recent seasons either. Dani Alves was allowed to walk away for free, and has since hammered home what a giant mistake that was by shining for Juventus. Jeremy Mathieu has flopped fairly spectacularly, Lucas Digne has barely featured, while Arda Turan has not managed to secure a regular place either. This summer proves to be testing too, Barcelona don’t look to have the budget to spend big and may also need to trim the squad.

It’s also worth comparing the lack of strength in depth Barca possess particularly compared to Real Madrid. Zinedine Zidane frequently has James Rodriguez, Alvaro Morata, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez on the bench – Barca’s bench, meanwhile simply doesn’t compare.

Defence – right back still an issue

The club still haven’t replaced Dani Alves and are expected to continue their search for a right-back this summer. Hector Bellerin is the obvious candidate although his agent has recently insisted he has not heard from Barca for some time and although he has received an offer the full-back – it did not come from the Catalans. Other options include Valencia’s Joao Cancelo, although he has been playing in a more advanced position this season, or Bayer Leverkusen’s Benjamin Henrichs who is young, exciting and likely to be available at a reasonable fee. In central defence a move for Ajax’s Davinson Sanchez has been mooted with Mathieu definitely on his way out and Javier Mascherano’s future unclear. Samuel Umtiti has proven an astute buy but cover is certainly needed at the heart of the Barcelona defence.

Central Midfield – Verratti the wanted man

If there’s one position Barcelona must prioritise strengthen this summer it’s the midfield and the one player most supporters are hoping the club can bring in is Marco Verratti. The Italian seems permanently on the verge of leaving PSG but you can expect his name to dominate the transfer pages again this summer, as he looks the perfect fit for the Catalans. Other names have been touted including Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez and even Manchester United’s Ander Herrera but Verratti is the one who could make all the difference. There’s also the question of Andres Iniesta’s future, the midfielder is out of contract next year and yet to agree an extension.

Out wide and attack

It is possible to strengthen Barcelona’s attack? Possibly not, an attempt was made last summer with Paco Alcacer brought in and although he struggled initially there have been signs recently he could yet prove a quality signing. While Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi are not about to be replaced anytime soon the club have still been linked with attacking signings. The most high profile has been Philippe Coutinho with reports in Spain even claiming he has agreed to join the club this summer. Christian Eriksen has also been touted as well as Sevilla winger Vitolo. Another winger, Gerard Deulofeu has also been heavily linked with Barca believed to be ready to exercise his buy-back clause. Despite Barca’s incredible attack, the MSN have scored over 100 goals for the third season running, extra options particularly out wide would be welcomed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gill Clark


Gill is a freelance football writer who has spent many years working for Goal, writing and editing news, previews, match reports, ratings, live blogs and just about anything else she can get her hands on.

She now contributes to a variety of online publications, including Soccernews, predominantly covering the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A.

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