Immediately after clinching their first La Liga title in four years, Barcelona is embarking on a squad revamp. Several players will depart, and in return, Camp Nou could welcome Lionel Messi, Ilkay Gundogan, and at least four other players.
Following the celebration of their first La Liga title since the 2018/19 season, Barcelona’s president, Joan Laporta, stated that “the club is planning to build a more competitive team for the upcoming season.” This demonstrates their ambitions. To secure a championship-winning squad after the derby against Espanyol, Barcelona transfer fees were over 200 million euros in the previous two transfer windows.
However, this is an essential requirement for a club like Barcelona. Even coach Xavi understands the challenges, admitting when he took over in November 2021: “This is Barcelona, where you have to win titles, and there is no concept of a transition period.” The question now is, what does the 43-year-old manager need in the summer 2023 transfer window?
The answer lies in the right-back position, which was the most concerning for Barcelona in the past season. Additionally, they are looking for a center-back, a defensive midfielder to replace the departing Sergio Busquets at the end of the season, a winger, and a center-forward. Barcelona has actually compiled a list of targeted signings.
Their goal for the right-back position is Juan Foyth (Villarreal) or Joao Cancelo (Manchester City). Martin Zubimendi (Real Sociedad) is their top candidate to replace Busquets. Inigo Martinez (Athletic Bilbao) has been identified for the center-back role. If Ez Abde doesn’t return after his loan spell at Osasuna, Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid) will be considered as an addition to the attacking wing.
Meanwhile, the 18-year-old talent Vitor Roque (Atletico Paranaense) and former player Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Chelsea) are options for the center-forward position, especially Aubameyang transfer fee is not expensive. However, the true stars that Barcelona fans are eagerly awaiting in the summer 2023 transfer window are not among the mentioned targets. Those stars are Gundogan, and especially Messi.
With Messi transfer fee is free, Messi is undoubtedly the name that every Barcelona fan is eagerly anticipating. Speaking about the possibility of bringing the Argentine star back to Camp Nou, President Laporta stated, “We still message each other. I have also had private conversations with Leo, and we will consider based on the real situation.” While affirming that “Messi loves Barca,” Laporta also admitted that he “doesn’t want to see the club in a dire situation again.”
The “situation” referred to by the head of the Catalan club is the need for the club to generate an additional €250 million in revenue while reducing the wage bill from €650 million to €450 million. After earning over €800 million from “economic leverage,” Barcelona no longer has any assets to sell. Therefore, their only source of income will come from player transfers.
According to Xavi’s request, the core starting lineup from last season is not supposed to be altered. As a result, players like Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres, Franck Kessie, and even Raphinha will have to mentally prepare themselves for a departure. In the upcoming season, Barcelona will build their team around young names such as Pedri (20 years old), Gavi (18), Alejandro Balde (19), and Ronald Araujo (24).
However, the problem lies in the fact that this plan still remains on paper, and Barcelona currently lacks the personnel to implement it. Sporting Director Mateu Alemany is set to move to Aston Villa, and Technical Director Jordi Cruyff is also preparing to leave his position. The anticipated replacement for the strategic planning role, Deco, has not yet arrived, while there is a pile of work to be done at Camp Nou.
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