8 Players Who Could Leave Barcelona at the End of the Season & Where They Could Go

Poor old Barcelona, eh?

Following almost 15 years of supremacy, which saw them spearhead a footballing revolution and form some of the game’s greatest ever sides (led by academy products), things are starting to unravel bit by bit in Catalonia.

From woeful – and I mean woeful – recruitment to persistent European collapses, La Blaugrana, quite frankly, have turned into a bit of a weird club.

Barcelona’s dealing of mightily gifted defender Jean-Clair Todibo was just one example of horrendous long-term planning

Nevertheless, with the Catalans desperate to earn €70m in player sales before the end of June to balance the club’s accounts (and prepare for the arrival of Lautaro Martinez), expect a fair few higher-valued stars to depart Catalonia imminently.

And if Miralem Pjanic for Arthur Melo are the sort of deals the Catalans are prepared to entertain, expect things to get even weirder at the Camp Nou.

So, here’s a list of players who could be departing Barcelona at the end of the season, accompanied with potential fees and suitors…


Arthur Melo

When the Brazilian rose to prominence following a masterclass in efficient midfield play against Tottenham at Wembley in October 2018, Arthur Melo looked set to be a fixture in the Barcelona midfield for the next decade.

For some reason, however, the club are seemingly keen to see him exit the Camp Nou in favour of Juventus’ Pjanic, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Sure, he might’ve struggled with ‘injury’ this term, but the 23-year-old has enjoyed a fairly productive campaign in the final third and is one of the finest in Europe in the first and second phases as a result of his supreme press-resistance, locomotion and capacity to combine off one and two touches with ease.

Estimated Price: £45m
Suitors: Juventus


Nelson Semedo

Arguably the finest to strut their stuff down the Camp Nou right flank in a post-Dani Alves world, 26-year-old Nelson Semedo is a player who could bring back a healthy economic return.

While not a prolific performer in the final third, Semedo’s athleticism, technique and astuteness in one-on-one situations makes him a valuable asset, and someone who would excel at several of Europe’s elite.

Estimated Price: £50m
Suitors: Juventus, Manchester City, Inter


Junior Firpo

Jordi Alba’s hamstrings have granted Junior Firpo ample opportunity to impress at left-back in his debut campaign, which he…has not.

While his skill set fits the ‘Barça way’ like a glove, Firpo, for all his impressive defensive work, has been frustrating to watch for much of the season due to his attacking incompetence.

Although, it would’ve been interesting to see how he fared under former Betis boss Quique Setien in Catalonia, La Blaugrana are set to cut their losses after just one season.

Estimated Price: £15m
Suitors: Napoli, Roma, Betis


Samuel Umtiti

Flying-high from a superb individual campaign amid France’s World Cup victory in 2018, persistent injury woes have prevented Samuel Umtiti from cementing himself as one of Europe’s most dominant defenders.

A majestic 2017/18 campaign saw him revolutionise the Barça backline alongside Gerard Pique, but he’s merely been a shadow of his former self in recent times.

And with Clement Lenglet ably stepping up to fill the void, La Blaugrana would be wise to move on from the perma-crocked Frenchman.

Estimated Price: £27m
Suitors: Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal


Ivan Rakitic

A mightily successful and underrated six-year spell at Barcelona looks to be coming to an end for Ivan Rakitic, who has often filled in as public scapegoat number one for some of the club’s less tolerant fans.

Despite the Croat himself admitting he’d be ‘happy’ to stay in Catalonia, it appears he’ll be one of the first on the chopping block in the Blaugrana purge.

The 32-year-old would provide invaluable functionality, versatitlity and experience for his next club.

Estimated Price: £13m
Suitors: Tottenham, Atletico


Arturo Vidal

Inter appear to have a weird fetish for Arturo Vidal, one only enhanced by the arrival of Antonio Conte last summer.

While the 33-year-old Chilean is certainly past his best, there’s little doubting he has the capacity to compete at the highest level for at least another campaign.

His work out of possession is vastly under-appreciated, while his versatility has often seen him shifted out to right in order to fulfil Setien’s tactical desires.

The addition of Vidal for a slashed fee would represent an astute bit of work on behalf of the Nerazzurri.

Estimated Price: £12m
Suitors: Inter


Philippe Coutinho

Following a frustrating campaign in Bavaria, Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recently announced the club won’t be activating the option to buy in Coutinho’s loan contract.

The 27-year-old, therefore, will return to Catalonia at the end of the season, where he’ll likely be offloaded once more. While the Brazilian still holds significant value, he’s also not the profile of player Barcelona need right now.

A return to the Premier League looks probable, as Barcelona set themselves for a drastic loss on a player they once splurged £145m on in 2017.

Estimated Price: £45m
Suitors: Chelsea, Leicester, Newcastle, Arsenal


Ousmane Dembele

Setien’s admiration of Dembele makes the Frenchman’s departure unlikely, but if all else fails, the former Betis boss may have to wave goodbye to the supremely gifted winger.

The 23-year-old’s ambidexterity is unique, while his creativity and innovation in possession can be spellbinding when in full cry.

If only he didn’t have paper hamstrings, eh?

Estimated Price: £60m
Suitors: Juventus, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, Liverpool


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Juventus Keen on Including Ousmane Dembélé as Part of Miralem Pjanic Deal With Barcelona

Juventus have taken an interest in Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembélé and the Frenchman could be used as part of the deal which would see Miralem Pjanic move to Catalonia.

The Blaugrana are keen to get a number of high earners off their books to ease some financial pressure amid the coronavirus pandemic. Along with Dembélé, the likes of Nelson Semedo, Samuel Umtiti, Ivan Rakitic and Arthur Melo are among the high-profile stars Barcelona are supposedly willing to jettison once the transfer window reopens.

Arthur Melo’s desire to stay at Barcelona has thwarted the potential swap deal with Juventus for Miralem Pjanic

Catalan news outlet Mundo Deportivo has reported Juventus, who are currently locked in negotiations with Barça regarding a swap deal between Pjanic and Arthur, have enquired about the possibility of including 23-year-old Dembélé as part of the deal instead.

Arthur isn’t keen on departing Camp Nou, and with the Brazilian unlikely to have a change of heart anytime soon, the two clubs are said to be exploring possibilities with other players.

Right-back Nelson Semedo is another who’s cropped up as an alternative, although the Portuguese international is subject of interest from Manchester City and, according to his agent Jorge Mendes, could be included in a swap deal which would see Joao Cancelo make the switch to Catalonia.

So that leaves Dembélé, who – despite his persistent injury woes – remains an exciting option for Juventus due to his supreme talent.

Ousmane Dembele’s £97m switch to Barcelona means he’s the joint-sixth most expensive footballer of all-time

Since his hefty £97m move from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, Dembele has been able to turn out in Blaugrana colours on just 74 occasions, scoring 19 times. Following a fairly productive La Liga campaign which saw him rack up 13 goal contributions, a pair of hamstring injuries have seen him notch a mere 492 minutes in all competitions this term.

And with his injury history in mind, Juve are believed to be interested in securing the Frenchman on an initial loan deal before making an assessment about his long-term future.

Barcelona boss Quique Setien, however, is a fan of Dembele due to the different dynamic he provides to the Catalans’ attack as a result of his willingness to run in behind and ambidexterity. A potential deal, therefore, could be tricky.


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Real Madrid 4-1 Barcelona: A Clásico Romp as Los Blancos Celebrate Title Triumph in Style

7 May, 2008. A normal day for most, but the perfect party for Real Madrid fans.

Having clinched the La Liga title three days prior with a 2-1 victory at Osasuna, the imperious Los Blancos starting XI were greeted with a pasillo – guard of honour from their dejected rivals as they entered the Bernabeu cauldron with an obvious swagger.

Real Madrid’s title victors are welcomed onto the field with a guard of honour from the Barcelona players

The pasillo alone would have been satisfactory enough for the home faithful – seriously, some fans left after the pre-match antics, while Catalan newspaper Sport advised readers not to switch on until 10:05pm when the nightmare was all over – but Bernd Schuster’s side ensured celebrations would last long into the Madrid night with a superb display in the Clásico.

Raul kick-started the romp in the 13th minute with a sweeping left-footed effort from the edge of the area following some fine build-up play, before Arjen Robben doubled the hosts’ lead with, beg your pardon…a header?!?

That’s right. Pre-total baldness as well.

Substitutes Gonzalo Higuain and Ruud van Nistelrooy heaped the misery on Frank Rijkaard’s side as they both scored with their respective first-touches in the second period.

Substitute Ruud van Nistelrooy added a fourth from the spot following Carles Puyol’s handball

Although Thierry Henry bagged a late consolation, events which followed the pre-match pasillo can only be described as a paseo – a walk in the park.


REAL MADRID

Key Talking Point

Bernd Schuster helped Los Blancos retain their La Liga title in his single full season at the helm

From pasillo to paseo, this was purely a celebration of a spellbinding Real Madrid side.

After Fabio Capello had guided them to La Liga triumph in 2006/07, Los Blancos had the difficult task of retaining their title the following year with former Getafe boss Schuster at the helm.

But in the end, they waltzed to consecutive crowns; finishing a hefty eight points ahead of Villarreal and a staggering 18 ahead of Barcelona.

This was a side sturdy enough in defence, tremendously well-balanced in midfield and that boasted incredible depth in attacking areas. The use of inverted wingers, most notably with Wesley Sneijder in this one, allowed for rapid combination play in central areas and persistent numerical superiority.

A superb side at their awe-inspiring finest in the May Clásico.


Real Madrid Player Ratings

Starting XI: Casilas (7); Ramos (7), Pepe (7), Heinze (7), Marcelo (8); Diarra (9), Gago (7), Guti (8); Sneijder (8), Raul (7), Robben (8).

Substitutes: Higuain (7), Robinho (7), Van Nistelrooy (6).


Mahamadou Diarra

Fabio Capello insisted on signing Mahamadou Diarra in 2006, paying €26m to secure his services from Lyon

Diarra played a pivotal role in Real’s title defence, as his tactical astuteness and comfort at which he screened the back four granted the likes of Fernando Gago and Guti greater freedom from box-to-box roles.

His function in the side was somewhat similar to that of Claude Makelele’s in the pre-Galacticos era.

Nevertheless, the Mali international was superb in this one as his aggression often thwarted Barcelona from progressing centrally, while he also proved an unstoppable force when driving forward with possession, setting up Higuain’s strike following a determined surge down the right flank.


BARCELONA

Key Talking Point

The end to Frank Rijkaard’s impressive reign at Barcelona was a bitter one

Embarrassed. Humiliated. Gutless.

And much like Real Madrid’s display, Barcelona’s was a microcosm of their 2007/08 campaign. Torrid.

Rafael Marquez’s fridge-like agility was ruthlessly exposed. Xavi was overwhelmed, non-existent and eventually escaped the nightmare with a red card, while they were totally reliant on Lionel Messi to conjure up some magic from thin air in the final third. The need for wholesale changes in the summer couldn’t have been more apparent.

Overall, it was a bitter end to the Rijkaard era which returned a pair of La Liga titles and a Champions League triumph in 2006.


Barcelona Player Ratings

Starting XI: Valdes (6); Zambrotta (5), Marquez (5), Puyol (6), Abidal (6); Xavi (3), Toure (7), Gudjohnsen (5); Messi (6), Bojan (5), Henry (6).

Substitutes: Dos Santos (6), Sylvinho (6), Edmilson (5).


Yaya Toure

Barcelona v Real Madrid – La Liga

Amid a humiliating day in La Blaugrana’s recent history, the gangly Ivorian put in a respectable display in the middle of the park.

Paired alongside an incompetent Xavi and Eidur Gudjohnsen – for about 20 minutes before he was hauled off for no apparent reason – Toure somewhat held his own against an on-song Real midfield which persistently had a numerical advantage thanks to the movement of Raul in a withdrawn forward role and Wesley Sneijder from out wide.

The poor lad tried his best, okay?


What Aged the Worst

Real Madrid v Barcelona – La Liga

This Bojan Krkic fella was supposed to be the next Lionel Messi, right? He had the shaggy hair and everything!

Although the Spaniard was isolated as the front man in this one, the then 17-year-old had burst onto the scene following his debut in September that season, finishing the campaign with ten La Liga strikes.

However, the fact he was lining up alongside Charlie Adam and Ryan Shawcross merely three years removed from his departure from Catalonia in 2011 suggests not everything quite went to plan.

Giovanni Dos Santos is another who failed miserably in his bid to fulfil his lofty potential, while Schuster’s coaching career took a significant u-turn after the La Liga triumph. The German was sacked in December 2008 before going to manage Malaga, Besiktas and Dalian Yifang with minimal success.


What Aged the Best

Marcelo rocking a buzz cut as he impressed in the 4-1 victory

Marcelo was superb in the ’08 Clásico in what many cited as his finest performance in Los Blancos colours up until that point. But how ’bout that barnet?

Sure, the neat and tidy two all over was cute ‘n all, but the outlandish afro would become symbolic of the flamboyant Brazilian full-back during his decade of dominance down the Bernabeu left.


What Happened Next

Pep Guardiola guided Barcelona to a majestic treble the following season

La Blaugrana would round off the campaign with a victory away Murcia following a 3-2 home defeat to Mallorca, before, well, Pep Guardiola happened.

The unproven boss was drafted in that summer as Rijkaard’s replacement to immediately rid Catalonia of the dark final days of the Dutchman’s reign. Guardiola’s 2008/09 and 2010/11 sides are two of the best in football history, as Barça re-established themselves as Spain’s supreme force.

Surprisingly, meanwhile, only three players who started this Clásico – Xavi, Carles Puyol and Sergio Ramos – would be apart of the Spain squad which triumphed at Euro 2008 that summer.


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Quique Setién Insists Barcelona Can Win Champions League After Lionel Messi Expresses Doubts

Barcelona manager Quique Setién has insisted Barcelona have enough in the tank to win this season’s Champions League, despite Lionel Messi appearing to doubt his team’s credentials.

The Argentine and his manager have had a few back-and-forths throughout the coronavirus shutdown, although it should be said most reports on the situation have overplayed it. Speaking to SPORT earlier this month, Messi explained that he never actually intended to doubt his team’s ability to win the trophy – and that Setién, who has previously responded his comments, had the wrong end of the stick.

“I think is that the coach misunderstood what I said or misunderstood what I wanted to say,” Messi said.

FC Barcelona v Real Betis Balompie – La Liga

“I never doubted the squad we have and did not I have doubt that you can win all that is left, but not by playing in the way we were playing. Now, everyone has their opinion and they are all very respectable.

“Mine is based on the fact that I was lucky to play the Champions League every years and I know that it is not possible to win it by playing as we have been playing. My opinion is based on the fact that I was lucky to play the Champions League every year and I know it’s not possible to win it playing as we were playing.”

Setién, however, appears to have responded to those quotes, as the Mail source a beIN Sports article – albeit one which doesn’t actually include the quotes they’ve run with.

Helpfully, they’ve also omitted all of Messi’s quotes about misunderstanding, instead using just the final line, which seems far more dramatic with no context.

“Messi’s words I think have created a big debate,” Setién is quoted as saying.

“We are convinced that we can win the Champions League. We have to improve some things, but without a doubt we are convinced that the team has the potential to win the Champions League.

“We can win it. We are convinced we can win the Champions League, of course we can.”


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Lautaro Martinez May Not Fix Barcelona’s Problems – He’ll Be the Latest Striker to End Up on the Wing

At a time when the world is filled with uncertainties, it’s almost reassuring to see that Barcelona are embroiled in a protracted transfer saga. At least some things never change.

While the possibility of Neymar returning to Camp Nou occasionally resurfaces, this summer’s permanent resident of the gossip pages is Inter’s Argentinian striker Lautaro Martínez.

Lautaro Martínez has scored 16 goals in 31 appearances for Inter prior to the suspension of play this season

A 90min exclusive revealed that Barcelona are confident of reaching an agreement with Lautaro as the Catalans desperately search for the financial means to secure his signature. However, it’s no foregone conclusion that Inter’s number ten will seamlessly slot into Barça’s frontline – partly down to Lautaro’s compatriot and, more specifically, where he plays.

Lionel Messi may turn 33 before the start of the next campaign, but La Liga’s top scorer and top assister this season has only shown signs of dipping below his stratospheric standards, rather than entering the realm of mere mortals.

The concern for Lautaro is that he will fall foul of the same fate as many other Barcelona centre forwards over the years. Namely, pushed out wide for Messi to play through the middle.

Of course, Barcelona’s number ten hasn’t exclusively been fielded in a central role – alongside Luis Suárez and Neymar he was nominally the right winger of Barça’s fabled ‘MSN’ attacking trident, with his Uruguayan teammate through the middle. But Suárez was the arguably the first of a long line of forwards afforded this role.

As Barcelona won the European Treble in 2014/15 the MSN trio scored 122 goals between them in all competitions

The latest to suffer the consequences of placating Messi has been Antoine Griezmann. The proven La Liga goalscorer hasn’t exactly set the world alight in his first campaign since arriving for north of £100m in the summer. If he had, Barcelona wouldn’t be so blatantly pursuing Lautaro.

Even in Suárez’s absence this season – following a severe knee injury in January – Griezmann hasn’t strictly been given licence to attack through the middle. Instead, the Frenchman has often found himself drifting wide on the left, with Diego Simeone’s deeply embedded defensive drills compelling him to help his full-back out of possession.

However, Griezmann is not the first, or even the most high profile, name to be pushed to the flanks in a bid to at times appease but largely get the best out of Messi.

As early as his teenage days in the youth team Messi has expressed a desire to play in the middle. When asked his favoured position he simply replied, ‘enganche’ – literally, ‘hook’ – the Argentinian term for a number ten.

Messi had his first contract at Barcelona written on a napkin at a local tennis club

Various coaches at youth and senior level had at times fielded Messi centrally but he was largely a winger before Pep Guardiola deployed him in the fabled ‘false nine’ position – dropping deep from a centre forward’s role to outnumber the opposition in midfield.

At first he wasn’t always played there but when he was, it saw the likes of Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o cast to the flanks. Two extraordinary forwards who, perhaps in any other team, would have lead the line with distinction.

The most famous case of this positional dilemma was Zlatan Ibrahimovic. A classic striker who looked awkward anywhere wider than the width of the posts, Ibrahimovic blames Guardiola’s placation of Messi (and Guardiola’s character on the whole) for his single season disappointment at the Camp Nou, explaining: “Messi wanted to play centre forward and he got his way.”

The seemingly quietly-spoken Messi was the driving force behind the tactical switch, privately going to Guardiola and imploring his manager to ‘stick the others out wide’.

Ibrahimovic won La Liga in his solitary season in Catalonia but was quick to force a move in the summer

This advice was largely adhered to and Ibrahimovic was swiftly replaced with the man who had been central (quite literally) to Spain’s World Cup triumph that summer. Yet, despite being promised a central role, David Villa ultimately found himself on the left of Barcelona’s front three with Pedro the other side of Messi as Barcelona became one of the greatest club sides in the history of European football.

The team, and Messi, were able to truly thrive with players flexible enough to coalesce around the magisterial number ten. In his season and a half of European football – a worryingly small sample size which should also be cause for concern – Lautaro has provided little evidence that he could play out wide.

However, that’s not to say it’s out of the 22-year-old’s skill set. He’s formed a formidable front pairing alongside Romelu Lukaku at Inter this season, with the duo plundering 39 goals between them. And Ernesto Valverde (the Barcelona coach replaced by the incumbent Quique Setién) had experimented with a 4-4-2.

Lautaro and Lukaku have been given the nickname LuLa by the Italian media this season

But should Barcelona even be going for a player who would need to alter their game? Why not buy someone who is a wide player rather than someone who can play out wide? Perhaps the answer to that lies in the uncertainty of Messi’s future.

After a turbulent campaign which has seen dirty laundry continually aired between the club and their captain, Messi could, in theory, leave Camp Nou at the end of the season for free given the ludicrous clause willingly inserted into his contract by the club.

Perhaps the question isn’t really whether Lautaro would fit in the same team as Messi, but whether he can be the spearhead of a side in the great man’s absence.

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