FC Barcelona have not grabbed headlines as they did last season when they sold Neymar to PSG. It has not been like when they acquired Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool during the January transfer window earlier this year, either. But that does not mean that they have been a passive team during the transfer market.
Ernesto Valverde wanted to bolster the defence, and quickly signed Clement Lenglet from Sevilla. The Frenchman is considered one of the most promising centre-backs in Europe. He should be in conditions to, at least, fight for playing time at the centre-back position.
Valverde also wanted to add depth in midfield. The solution? They brought Arthur from Gremio, even though he should have joined the side during January next year. He was not the only Brazilian that joined Las Blaugranas, though. Barca also acquired Malcom in a controversial (to say the least) negotiation that also involved both AS Roma and Bordeaux. But there is one thing they have been missing: a replacement for Andres Iniesta.
Some could say that Arthur might be a valuable replacement for the Spanish legend. However, he fits the mold of being something closer to Sergio Busquets. He could even be a clear upgrade over Andre Gomes. But he is no Iniesta, and probably he never will.
If Barcelona want to sign a playmaking central midfielder that could fill the (enormous) void left by Iniesta, there is only one player they should target. He goes by the name of Miralem Pjanic.
Competition? That’s not a problem for Barca…
The competition to sign the Bosnia international will be fierce since Manchester City are also keen on the talented Juventus star, but Barca should not give up on his pursuit. Pjanic has been one of the best midfielders in Europe ever since he was with Roma, and his arrival to Juventus simply jumped him to a bigger spotlight that he has been able to handle quite well.
Footballing-wise, there is no doubt that Pjanic makes sense to play for Los Blaugranas. He seems to have the “Barca ADN” already incorporated in him, mostly thanks to his composed nature in midfield and his accurate touch, both on short and long passes. He is also an excellent set-piece taker and possesses an accurate long-range shot, something that has been quite absent in Barcelona over the next few years. Plus, he is only 28 years old so he is about to enter his prime.
The stats don’t lie: Pjanic is a quality playmaker
The numbers back him up as well. Since joining The Old Lady ahead of the 2016-17 season, Pjanic has 91 appearances for the reigning Serie A champions with 15 goals and 28 assists. That’s an impressive tally considering he regularly plays on a deeper role. The assist tally could easily increase knowing Barca’s attacking line has names such as Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Luis Suarez and of course, Lionel Messi.
Juventus have already asked for $100 million to begin negotiations for the Bosnian, who has won 81 caps with his national team and played in the 2014 FIFA World Cup representing his country. It remains to be seen if Barcelona decide to spend the money or not, but one thing is certain: if they want to find a replacement for Iniesta, then Pjanic is the best alternative. And no other player would come even close to give the team what he brings to the table.
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