It’s not that long ago that Barcelona were the all-conquering powerhouse of European football that revolutionised the beautiful game.
Now, well, they are a million miles off the pace in the Champions League, and finished a whole seven points behind champions Atletico Madrid in La Liga.
Something has got to change.
The jury is out on head coach Ronald Koeman, while some high-profile signings – including Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Miralem Pjanic and Samuel Umtiti – have only shown their best very fleetingly.
Factor in that key figures like Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique or Jordi Alba are all on the wrong side of 30, and the time feels right for a quiet revolution at the Nou Camp. They won’t even start as favourites in the outright winner La Liga betting odds for 2021/22, such is their fall from grace.
There is an opportunity to overhaul the playing squad and, for the most part, bring down the average age – ensuring that the Catalan giants are ready to move into a bright new future with a fresh and hungry roster.
Allied to a couple of experienced players with plenty to prove, the five targets below could all help to elevate Barcelona back to their former glories.
It’s no secret – Sergio Aguero will leave Manchester City this summer and, in all probability, look to link up with his Argentina teammate Messi in Catalonia.
And what a signing it would be – it became wholly obvious that letting Luis Suarez go was a huge mistake, and Barca have been crying out for a recognised striker ever since. Antoine Griezmann, and even Messi himself, have not proven to be the answer.
Despite being beset by injuries last season, Aguero showed plenty of class when he was able to feature for City, and it won’t be long before he’s putting the ball in the back of the net for a new employer – hopefully, that will be Barcelona.
At 29, Lorenzo Insigne wouldn’t herald that exciting new era that we have written about.
But the diminutive Italian would fill a problem slot on the left flank – particularly as we await news on Ansu Fati’s fourth knee surgery to solve an injury that has left him on the sidelines since November.
Insigne was outstanding last season, and contributed 19 goals and seven assists from wide areas for Napoli. He is ready for a big move that has evaded him throughout his career, and Camp Nou looks to be the perfect destination.
It was something of a surprise when Real Madrid let Theo Hernandez leave the club – he always looked to be a young talent with plenty of potential, and the Frenchman has certainly kicked on at his new employer AC Milan.
The Rossoneri would make a handsome profit on the £15 million they paid for the left back if Barcelona come calling this summer, and at 23 he ticks the boxes on the age profile front.
Jordi Alba won’t go on forever, and a lack of depth in the left back area suggests that swift action is needed this summer.
While there’s no shortage of midfield options for Koeman right now, aside from Busquets he doesn’t really have that midfield general to protect the defence.
Ibrahim Sangare has been a promising addition to the PSV squad in the Netherlands, and the 2020/21 season was a personal best for him – he recorded 3.5 tackles per 90 minutes and 2.1 interceptions, allied to a pass success rate of 85%.
The Ivorian wouldn’t cost a huge amount, and yet he would improve the defensive midfield options at Koeman’s disposal quite markedly.
The centre of defence is an area of real concern for Barcelona supporters.
The club conceded 38 goals in La Liga this season, and that rate of one-per-game makes it far more difficult to go and win matches.
Gerard Pique is 34, neither Umtiti nor Clement Lenglet look to be elite defensive options and youngsters Oscar Mingueza and Ronald Araujo are still learning their craft.
There is a position vacant at the back then, and Wesley Fofana has been one of the most impressive young centre backs on the continent in 2020/21.
The Leicester man possesses the physicality of a defender but is blessed with the passing range of a midfielder, and he looks to be the sort of dynamic, progressive type that is very much part and parcel of the modern game.
The Frenchman, and the four other players nominated on this list, would surely improve Barcelona’s fortunes quite considerably.