Barcelona without Messi: How they could line-up in 2021/22

Paul Macdonald
Paul Macdonald Updated: 19 May 2021 12:24 BST 4 min read
Barcelona without Messi: How they could line-up in 2021/22

Lionel Messi’s future remains largely unresolved, but the tide is certainly turning on his time at Barcelona.

He was denied his move last summer, and the team’s form this season has given the Argentine little indication that he can claim that another Champions League, something that is a main motivator for him.

But with FootballTransfers revealing that retailers in France are readying themselves for selling Lionel Messi-PSG merchandise, it feels, more than ever, that the Messi era is coming to an end.

So what does Barcelona in the 2021/22 season look like without their talisman, and after some summer transfer business? Let’s take a look.

Barcelona Predicted XI in 2021/22

Barcelona in 21/22 - Football tactics and formations


  • Barcelona may be able to free up Messi’s salary but, really, that money can only be redirected to modest sources given the club’s financial predicament
  • The idea of Barca making a marquee signing to replace Messi is out of the question
  • But they should have enough funds to shore up in two key positions


  • Depay is out of contract with Lyon in the summer and has of yet given no indication that he will renew
  • Ronald Koeman has been desperate to land the Dutchman
  • Depay’s position has evolved over time to play more centrally, which is a position Barcelona need to fill following Luis Suarez’s departure
  • It would allow Antoine Griezmann to play off the right and have space to roam, like Messi used to do

ERIC GARCIA (£10-£15m)

Barcelona without Messi: How they could line-up in 2021/22

Barcelona without Messi: How they could line-up in 2021/22

  • Garcia is a La Masia graduate and has made no secret of his desire to return to Camp Nou
  • Manchester City won’t stand in his way, but want to get a reasonable fee
  • Barca have lowballing for much of the summer but desperately need defensive cover and Garcia fits the profile
  • A deal will likely be done next summer

In reality, Barcelona can make bluster over other potential signings in two with their new presidential candidates, but their financial situation really is grave. Unless they are able to sell the likes of Ousmane Dembele or Antoine Griezmann for a mammoth fee, there’s really no possible way that a big signing can come in.


  • Sergino Dest and Jordi Alba will begin next season as first-choice full-backs
  • Marc-Andre Ter Stegen recently signed a new deal and will remain in goal
  • Gerard Pique’s injury puts doubts on his long-term role within the team
  • Clement Lenglet also recently signed a new deal and his left-footed option in defence is one Barca like
  • Frenkie De Jong and Miralem Pjanic will likely phase out Sergio Busquets in midfield
  • 18-year-old Pedri is the great hope for the team and will play even more next year
  • Antoine Griezmann and Ansu Fati will play either side of a central striker
  • Ousmane Dembele’s constant fitness problems mean he can’t be relied upon
  • Philippe Coutinho still fails to impress; it’s difficult to see him having a future at the club

So we shouldn’t expect Barcelona’s team to evolve too much. Aside from the issue of money, a significant number of first-team players signed extensions a few months ago meaning there is no rush to replace them.

Furthermore, with the presidential candidates lining up to lay out their manifestos for the future, it remains largely unclear who will be at the helm and so the new man – if Ronald Koeman is indeed replaced – will have constraints placed on them from the beginning.

Life after Lionel Messi at Barcelona was always going to be difficult. But the current situation makes it virtually impossible.

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