At the top of last season Barcelona were confident that they’d keep Lionel Messi. In the course of this season they said they were hopeful of signing Erling Haaland. And as this campaign entered the house straight, a couple of weeks back, they were talking up their probabilities of signing Robert Lewandowski.
That’s the fantasy.
The fact is that the large gains this summer could find yourself being re-signing Ousmane Dembele, presenting a fully-fit Ansu Fati in preseason, and if Chelsea allow it, giving Cesar Azpilicueta the job of shoring up their defence. Raphinha arriving from Leeds can be a bonus. But it surely would rely upon Leeds being relegated, dropping the Brazilian’s price to a level that Barcelona could afford.
Xavi admits Barcelona ‘cannot compete’ with Man City and Real Madrid within the transfer market
Leeds’ Raphinha and Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta are amongst Barca’s most important targets this summer
And even then it may need to be financed by Dembele not staying or a bid coming in for Memphis Depay. The phrase most-often uttered across the club without delay is a well-recognized one – Barcelona have no money.
The optimism over Messi staying last yr helped Joan Laporta win the election. Xavi’s meeting with Haaland in Germany kept the wave of optimism high. And when Haaland proved unimaginable, the Lewandowski rumours helped sugar the pill.
Still this week the large names keep surfacing. Sadio Mane was on the front page of 1 paper on Tuesday. It’s true that Messi urged the club to sign him when he was still a Barca player. But that was pre-pandemic and before a lightweight was shone on Barcelona’s funds. No matter Mane’s contract situation at Liverpool, Barcelona cannot afford the wages.
The club are still recovering from losses of around £410m (€480m) within the 2020-21 season and so they are banned from spending within the transfer market any greater than 1 / 4 of what they generate this summer. Xavi admitted as much earlier this week that they’re competing in one other league now, one by which free transfers and relegation clauses feature heavily.
Boss Xavi told Marca: ‘It is a shame, we have now not been in a position to compete.’
Barcelona understand that if Leeds are relegated they’ll sign Raphinha for £21m (€25m). They appear to be holding out to see if that happens before they table a final offer to Dembele. All of the while the French winger keeps clocking up the assists. His tally of 13 for the season is higher than everyone’s in Spain despite the undeniable fact that he has only began 15 games.
One other thing holding up the Dembele offer is the conclusion of the Philippe Coutinho saga. He’ll move permanently to Aston Villa this summer but Villa only wish to pay £12m and Barcelona are holding out for £17m.
Who else moves on will rely upon how well Director of Football Mateu Alemany does within the transfer market. As last January showed within the case of Dembele, telling a player he has to go away, and a player actually leaving, could be two completely various things.
Ousmane Dembele has registered 13 assists this season despite only starting 15 matches
After being sent to Munich to take a seat down with Haaland in March, just for it to soon change into clear that the potential for him signing was slim to zero, Xavi now desires to be given a competitive squad for next season. He’s well aware of the restraints but he wants two players for every position and a clear-out of those he has no intention of using.
In goal Marc Andre ter Stegen will stay but Neto will move on to make way for Iñaki Peña who returns from a loan at Galatasaray.
At right back if Azpilicueta arrives it looks unlikely that Dani Alves will likely be offered a latest contract. The Chelsea defender would compete with Sergino Dest providing there are not any big offers for the US international.
Within the centre of defence Ronald Araujo, Gerard Pique, Eric Garcia and Andreas Christensen will compete for the 2 positions. At left back Xavi wants Javi Galan or Jose Gaya to compete with Jordi Alba but unless asking prices could be brought down drastically by the willingness of Celta Vigo or Valencia to factor players into the deal then Barcelona will struggle to make it occur.
Xavi is keen to usher in Celta Vigo left back Javi Galan to compete with Jordi Alba
Jose Gaya (R) is also targeted but Valencia might want to bring their asking price down
Clement Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti, Martin Braithwaite and Oscar Mingueza are all options to change into makeweights in any transfers.
In midfield Xavi wants a squad of six with Franck Kessie arriving from Milan to hitch Sergio Busquets, Gavi, Pedri, Nico and Frenkie de Jong. This plan only changes if Manchester United make an enormous bid for the Dutch international by which case Barcelona would replace him with Valencia’s Carlos Soler.
In attack, again it’s the identical rule of six for 3 positions. Xavi sees Dembele, Aubameyang and Fati from right to left as a front three with pace and goals. Memphis and Ferran Torres, with a sixth player signed or promoted from Barcelona B would give the coach options. If Raphinha, represented by Deco, arrives from Leeds then it could mean that either Memphis or Dembele had moved on.
Memphis Depay could move on from Barcelona should the Catalans sign one other forward
To all the opposite interminable ifs and buts Barcelona finally selling off Barça Studios or accepting the investment fund cope with CVC could be added. The previous doesn’t seem imminent and the second stays a plan of action they would like to avoid.
On the brilliant side Barcelona are near securing second place and with the next spike in TV money (that paid to clubs in line with where they finish within the table) and the financial reward for participating within the Spanish Super Cup (courtesy of ending two-two) that might mean an additional £17m (€20m).
Considering missing out on a Champions League looked on the cards before he arrived the campaign has ended well. Just not so well that Barcelona are about to sign Haaland, Lewandowski or Mane for next season.