Any potential transfer news at Barcelona is secondary to the questions surrounding Lionel Messi. The Argentinian superstar’s contract runs out at the end of the season and all eyes are on what he will do next. It is perhaps an indication of the state of the club that the side is currently trying to crack the top four in La Liga rather than contending for the title as they sit in fifth-place with 28 points under first year manager Ronald Koeman.
Koeman has largely managed the club through inconsistent performances, and while the team is currently on a six game unbeaten streak, that run contains disappointing draws against Eibar and Valencia at gome. The team has seen injuries, most recently and notably to Messi, and are awaiting Barcelona elections to take place on Jan. 24 with Carlos Tusquets serves as interim president following the resignation of Josep Bartomeu.
The team is in dire straits at the moment, out of the top four, awaiting elections; along with being cash strapped and in the red due to a number of expensive contracts. Messi is potentially looking for a new club and speaking out, an uncommon occurrence for his otherwise media silent legacy. It’s likely to be a careful process from Barcelona as the transfer window opens.
Fabrizio Romano’s take on Barcelona
First of all, the Messi saga needs to be clarified, with the election of the new president we will understand his final decision. But Leo’s contract will be the key issue at Barça also for January. Additionally, the target is to buy a striker with Memphis Depay of Lyon still at the top of the list: there is still no agreement there and Barça will have to sell first to buy him. Beyond that, Barcelona are also considering the purchase of a new central defender in January.
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Players Barcelona should target
Barcelona are perhaps more in need of an injection of defensive quality that can solve the center back depth issues that have plagued them since the iconic Gerard Pique suffered a season ending injury. Barcelona rank 10th in La Liga for expected goals conceded per match with 1.27 through 16 matches.
Injuries to Ronald Araújo and Piqué have put a glaring spotlight on the backline, with Frenkie de Jong being tasked to help cover in central defense. The side has been forced to include of Óscar Mingueza from Barcelona B and insert him immediately into the starting eleven as an option during Champions League, while Samuel Umtiti has played only 36 minutes this season.
There are a number of options the club could look at in terms of defensive depth. In terms of center backs the club has signed a precontract Eric Garcia out of Manchester City, and Barcelona will push to make the move official this month to meet their immediate needs.
Players most likely to leave
Barcelona have needs to fill and they also need to sell in order to buy, so there’s a strong possibility players could leave this January.
Samuel Umtiti is a player Barcelona likely want to move in light of his lack of playing time and lingering knee issues, signaling how dire the situation is for the Blaugrana in the backline. The difficultly will come in finding a likely buyer in the market for this World Cup champion.
Martin Braithwaite is another attacking player who could be moved even in light of his recent performance against Valladolid. He arrived to the Camp Nou last season as a quick signing based out of need, but perhaps not a player to keep long term.
Junior Firpo could be another defender that is moved to make way for Garcia’s signing. The left back is an important backup to Jordi Alba but since Barcelona need to free up funds, they’ll have to make sacrifices somewhere. There’s danger in moving defensive depth in light of so many current holes in the backline, but the recent form of American Sergino Dest gives Barcelona room to consider offers for Firpo while making room for another defensive signing or bring up another academy prospect in place of the 24-year-old Firpo.
Transfer prediction for Barcelona
The eventual arrival of Eric Garcia to the club is likely as it has been in the works for some time now, but the potential for Barcelona to make huge transfer noise in January is limited. There are too moving parts in play at the moment for them to all line up to make a big splash for the current season. Conversations happening now may be used to secure potential deals in the future.