With the transfer window nearly closing, it’s nearly time to finalise the squads and start letting the football do the talking.
Barcelona have had a great pre-season and transfer window. Unlike Real Madrid, who have lost their influential manager, Zinedine Zidane and star man, Cristiano Ronaldo- Barca have been able to keep their squad together and have made it much stronger than is was last season.
The Catalan giants have added Arturo Vidal, Malcolm and the talented Brazilian Arthur. Vidal and Malcolm bring in a wealth of European experience and something that this current squad doesn’t have.
Barca haven’t lost many players that could be called first team regulars. Of course, Andreas Iniesta has left the club, but the time was possibly right for that to happen. Other departures are Alexis Vidal who re-joined Sevilla and Lucas Digne who signed for Everton. Yerry Mina is also a player that is widely expected to leave during the window with Barca currently maxed out on their non-Eu players.
Ernesto Valverde seems to want to replace a few of those players that have left as he was explicit when asked about transfers, saying that the team are open to adding more players before the end of the window. His priorities are a central midfielder and a left-back, after Lucas Digne left for Everton.
Valverde has been very happy with the pre-season campaign and being able to see his squad players, he said: “The performance is better than the results obtained, we lost two games and drew one but I’m leaving with a good feeling. There are lots of positives.
“Tottenham scored in the last minute to draw, the late Roma goals came when the younger players were on, and against Milan, we dominated, but they get the goal.Other positives have been the new signings, Arthur, Lenglet and Malcom, as well as the B team players: Riqui Puig, Miranda, Monchu, Collado. They can help us not just in the future, but in the present.”
Will the successful window have a positive outcome on the Barca dream to finally break the Real Madrid grip on the Champions League trophy? Most sports betting companies currently think that Barcelona have a better chance than Madrid to win the big European cup but the current favourites with most bookmakers is Juventus- possibly down to the effect of signing Ronaldo.
In order to consider this season a success, Barcelona will need to improve in European competition. Their embarrassing defeat to Roma in Stadia Olympico made it three straight years without a semi-final appearance.
There will be a few younger players on the books at Barca that will be hoping to be given a chance in the upcoming season and you will be sure to see Carles Alena, Abel Ruiz and Carles Perez in at least the Copa Del Rey.
Barca have had a grip on the domestic trophy in Spain for the past four seasons and will be expecting to make it an unprecedented fifth triumph this season. The depth in the squad allows Barca to commit to both domestic trophies and one would think that Barca will once again be the team to beat in the cup competition.
The current La Liga champions will be looking to win their fourth title in five seasons. The Catalan giants have been riveting throughout their league campaigns but have been unglued in the latter stages of the Champions League.
Barca have added Clement Lenglet from Sevilla in a bid to solve their defensive problems and the early signs are good. Injuries and suspensions to Pique and Umtiti late in the season found just how inept the defensive cover is so this transfer helps massively with how competitive the club could be.
The club are heavy favorites to win La Liga again due to how weak Real Madrid look on paper this season and the lack of consistency from Atletico within the league season. The latter will be looking to be the big threat next season with the addition of Thomas Lemar and will be boosted by the fact that they have tied down Antoine Griezmann to a new long-term deal.
One thing is for sure, Barca will be the team to beat again this season and will be fighting for all trophies, but this could be their year to re-capture the European Cup.