Barcelona’s transfer policy is ultimately dependent on which players can be sold in order to raise funds.
The situation is sensitive. The senior playing squad have been asked to take a 30% pay cut in order to save £180m (€191m) from the club’s spiralling wage bill. Therefore, while the squad needs transfers and needs strengthening, it’s difficult to entertain the idea of spending gigantic sums on transfers.
But there are areas of the squad which require immediate attention. So there are likely to be moves that can be made in January.
Sergino Dest’s signing from Ajax in the summer took care of the right-back position. He has also deputised for Jordi Alba at left-back too. But the problem lies in the centre. Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet remain the first-choice partnership – both of them recently signed new deals – but there is a distinct lack of cover. Samuel Umtiti is never fit, and Ronald Araujo isn’t trusted.
Eric Garcia is a logical transfer. A former Barcelona player, he wants to leave Manchester City, and City seem happy enough to sell him for a reasonable price. The problem is that even that reasonable price – £13m (€15m) – is too rich for Barcelona, to lay their financial woes even more clearly.
It’s a deal that still could happen but Barca will likely haggle for as long as possible and drag out the process. However, City now have John Stones, Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake and Aymeric Laporte for their two centre-back slots. Garcia isn’t needed and so it could well be done in January.
Midfield is a position that Barcelona are unlikely to strengthen. Miralem Pjanic arrived in the summer and he will rotate in the double pivot with Sergio Busquets, while Frenkie De Jong Ronald Koeman’s preferred starter.
If you add in Pedri, the 17-year-old star in the making, Carles Alena and Riqui Puig, there’s plenty of options for Koeman in this area of the pitch and he will be focusing his energies – and whatever little transfer budget is available – elsewhere.
Barcelona still haven’t got the balance right in attack. Ansu Fati’s recent injury, which will see him out of action for the next four months, will mean that Barcelona may be forced to act in this area. Ousmane Dembele is fit at the moment but can’t truly be relied upon and what Fati gave them doesn’t exist in the squad.
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Which means that Memphis Depay is still the main option. Lyon may be determined to keep him until the end of the season but Koeman is desperate to acquire him and will likely push hard once again. He may be available for as little as £20m (€22m) given his contract status and he would no doubt be a useful addition.
But again, it comes down to money. It’s not a huge amount in general terms. But this is an extraordinary time for Barca’s finances and that money may need to be raised from sales. Being able to do that while maintain squad depth is another challenge altogether.
Barcelona’s transfers will be based on the money they can raise. If there’s funds that can be found, there’s two logical transfers they will attempt to complete. But it’s a big if.