With Liverpool resolute in holding onto star man Phillipe Coutinho, and the Antoine Griezmann having signed a new contract in June, taking his release clause up to a whopping £170m, Barcelona may have to look to different targets to find that one marquee player they’ve been wanting to bring in.
Barcelona are slowly moving away from their traditional 4-3-3 formation, and that opens up for more potential players to bring it to strengthen their already impressive squad.
Here’s seven players they could look to bring in instead of reported targets Coutinho and Griezmann…
7. Jean Michaël Seri
Current Club: OGC Nice
Jean Seri was heavily linked with Barcelona in the summer, with reports that he was high up on Barca’s list of Neymar replacements.
The Ivorian midfielder could sit nicely in between or in front of Iniesta and Rakitic to add the same creative ingenuity that Coutinho would, and he’d cost nowhere near as much.
6. Thiago Alcantara
Current Club: Bayern Munich
Former Barcelona midfielder Thiago could make a sensational return to the club after leaving in 2013 and becoming a key player in the Bayern Munich squad.
But with the 26-year-old already hinting at a potential return home, reuniting with former teammates, including younger brother Rafinha, could become reality in the not too distant future.
Thiago’s versatility could be a useful weapon to have in the arsenal for Barça, with the uncertainty around their preferred formation requiring multi-talented players.
5. Lorenzo Insigne
Current Club: Napoli
The 26-year-old Italian has emerged onto the radar of the world’s elite, playing alongside Marek Hamsik and Dries Mertens to become a prolific and versatile attacking midfielder for the Serie A league leaders.
Having scored 43 goals in 179 appearances for Napoli, ‘Lorenzo il Magnifico’ could put his speed to good use in a newly formed Barcelona lineup, playing as an attacking midfielder or even a forward should Barca retain their 4-3-3 mentality.
4. Leon Goretzka
Current Club: Schalke 04
This German international is currently being lined up as Liverpool’s replacement for Emre Can. However, with Barcelona needing young talent in midfield as well as attack, Goretzka could fit in brilliantly.
Great ball control, able to win aerial challenges in the middle of the park and an eye for goal would mean that, after maybe a year or so of experience, Goretzka could fit nicely into a new-look Barcelona midfield, spearheading a diamond or sitting back in a flat 4-4-2.
3. Eden Hazard
Current Club: Chelsea
When has Eden Hazard not been linked with Barcelona in recent years? The Chelsea star man has gone from strength to strength at Chelsea and (whisper it) in all likelihood, there may come a time when he will want to move to new pastures.
Hazard would work well in Barca’s traditional 4-3-3 formation, playing up on the left alongside Messi and Suarez. Whilst he could shift down into a central attacking role in midfield, his talents are much better suited to the wing.
2. Dele Alli
Current Club: Tottenham Hotspur
The player that alongside Harry Kane has made Tottenham into the attacking force that they are.
With a free-roaming midfielder at the top of a midfield four, Barcelona could mix up their attacking scenarios. Dele Alli’s ability to move forward would allow Leo Messi to retain his ‘false nine’ role in attack or even move to the wing.
Barcelona could definitely go all out to sign Alli, but Tottenham would charge a pretty penny for his services.
1. Nabil Fekir
Current Club: Olympique Lyonnais
This lad fits the stereotypical player model for Barcelona: quick, technically gifted and a great passer.
French international Nabil Fekir is still only 24, which gives him room to be moulded into whatever Barcelona’s formation ends up as next season.
He has already shown that he can play as either an attacking midfielder or a striker, and there will probably be another position that he Barcelona coaching start can coax out of him.
The first half started as an end-to-end game, with Barca surprisingly not dominating the possession in the manner they have been known for.
Barcelona returned to their old 4-3-3 formation, with Paco Alcacer shifting up to the left forward position. The midfield three, made up of Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta, remained quite compact.
Barcelona’s full-backs played extremely high, and should’ve made the first breakthrough together with Semedo’s pass to Alba setting up Suarez for a tap in.
It would’ve been a well-worked goal had Alba not been ruled out for offside, when he was actually in line with the Leganes back line. However, Barcelona broke through soon after with a great left foot shot from Luis Suarez, which nestled in the bottom right corner.
Whilst Barcelona always had threatening presence when in possession, especially with Semedo at right back, Leganes also had their chances. One particular Alexander Szymanowski effort produced a decent reflex save from Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Nordin Amarabat, on loan from Watford, looked the most dangerous for Leganes as he headed up the attack for the hosts. Even after Suarez’s goal, Leganes did not let up their attack and continued to be a nuisance for the Barcelona defence.
They could’ve pulled a goal back after a great cross from Szymanowski was just too long, with ter Stegen rooted to the spot as it made its way to the back post.
But as the first half went on, Barcelona held onto possession a lot tighter, whilst Leganes made their use of the ball more productive, making six shots to Barcelona’s one.
Thankful it’s HT for Barça, tbh. Very meh first half. But that’s not uncommon.
— Diana Kristinne (@DianaKristinne) November 18, 2017
The second half very much improved in every aspect. Leganes became even more hungry to grab a goal, with ter Stegen being peppered with shots, albeit most of them easy saves.
Whilst the home side didn’t let up their pressure, it left them open to getting caught up in the moment, with many sloppy fouls being given away, especially in the middle of the park.
Just before the hour mark, Luis Suarez made it 2-0 with a brilliant acrobatic volley following a rebound.
Paco Alcacer’s shot rebounded off the woodwork and came towards Suarez at chest height, with the Uruguayan shifting his body to hit it first time. The shot was actually going straight towards the goalkeeper, but a huge deflection took it into the net.
One player that shone for Ernesto Valverde’s side was Paulinho, whose great attacking display in midfield justified the praise he has been receiving since his surprise transfer this summer.
He capped his performances with a deft finish into the centre of the goal to confirm all three points for Barça.
Paulinho now with same number of La Liga goals this season (4) as Madrid’s BBC
— Kieran Canning (@KieranCanning) November 18, 2017
As the last half 20 minutes came to pass, it was obvious that Barcelona’s willingness to attack was diminishing, with more conservative play and only taking chances when they were handed on a plate.
As Barca’s attack diminished, so did Leganes’ confidence, as flashes of what they had shown in the first half became few and far between.
They still retained their excitement, with Diego Rico’s effort from over 35 yards out being saved in the bottom left hand corner.
Whilst Barcelona deserved the victory, Leganes’ effort showed that they deserve to sit in a respectable ninth place in La Liga, having 17 shots with only 32% possession.
The win for Barca gives them a greater edge over second placed Valencia, as well as an 11-point advantage over Atletico and Real Madrid.
The win will also give them confidence going into their Champions League clash with Juventus on Wednesday, ahead of a top two match away to Valencia next Sunday.
Barcelona Prepare Mass Sale of Stars as They Look to Sign Liverpool Ace Philippe Coutinho in January
?Barcelona are preparing to clear out a number of their top players, in order to move again for Liverpool ace Philippe Coutinho in January. The La Liga giants spent much of the last transfer window relentlessly perusing the tenacious Brazilian midfielder, but the Reds held strong and refused to sell their prize asset.
However, as reported by Spanish outlet Diario Gol, via the Daily Star, Barcelona are still desperate to land the 25-year-old playmaker, and will look to offload a number of their stars to raise the necessary cash to fund the move. The likes of Denis Suarez, Paco Alcacer, Aleix Vidal, Arda Turin and Andre Gomes could all find themselves on the chopping block in January.
Liverpool have been without in recent weeks due to a groin injury, but many pundits have argued that the squad has looked stronger without his presence in midfield. Jürgen Klopp has dealt with Coutinho’s absence by packing his central midfield with more defensively minded players such as James Milner and Jordan Henderson.
This switch of tactics has seen the Reds’ notoriously shaky defence offered a great deal more protection, and with the attacking threat of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino going forward, Liverpool have had more than enough firepower up-front. The Reds fans won’t be keen to lose Coutinho however, as he has emerged as their standout star player in recent seasons.
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Liverpool face Southampton on Saturday afternoon in the Premier League. Klopp’s side currently sit fifth in the Premier league table, 11 points off current leaders Manchester City. Coutinho is set to return for the Reds for the match, and Liverpool will be hoping to overturn their poor record against the Saints who they haven’t beaten at home in the league since 2014.
?Spanish football expert Guillem Balague says that Barcelona will attempt to sign Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann if they are unable to prise Philippe Coutinho away from Anfield in January.
Barcelona made three bids for Coutinho during the summer, but Liverpool refused to let go of their prised asset despite the Brazilian handing in a transfer request.
Balague is confident that Barcelona will attempt to sign Coutinho again in January, but believes that Griezmann, who came close to a move to Manchester United during the summer, is also a target for the Catalan giants.
Philippe Coutinho says he’s happy at Liverpool: I’m playing in one of the biggest leagues in the world. I’m always happy. At the moment I am very happy with my life
— Kaveh Solhekol (@SkyKaveh) November 12, 2017
The Daily Star quotes Balague as telling Sky Sports: “
With just three goals from thirteen appearances in all competitions this season, Griezmann is thought to be frustrated with the lack of creative support he is receiving at Atletico Madrid this season, and Balague suggested that this would make the chance to move to the Camp Nou an appealing prospect for the Frenchman.
“He is crying out for the ideal partner up front and he has let himself go to an extent. I think he wants to go. Given the opportunity to go to Barcelona, he would certainly consider it.
“He knows that Barcelona have approached his representatives and would put down €100m on July 1 when his buy-out clause reduces from €200m.”
Griezmann will be hoping to improve his record over the coming months if he is to secure a starting place for France at next years World Cup ahead of the likes of Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette and 18 year old PSG sensation Kylian Mbappe.
?Mexico national team manager Juan Carlos Osorio claims to have advised Davinson Sanchez to opt for Ajax over Barcelona while both were at Colombian side Atletico Nacional.
Osorio quickly integrated the 17-year-old defender into his side, where he