How Barcelona will line up WITHOUT Messi
Barcelona’s announcement that Lionel Messi wouldn’t be signing a new deal with the club sent shockwaves across the world.
The one-club man has been forced to look elsewhere to play his football and he has subsequently signed for PSG on a Bosman transfer.
While Barca fans mourn the departure of their hero, Ronald Koeman and his backroom staff will now have to consider how they set up their team for next season without Messi leading the line.
So how does Barcelona’s starting XI now look after Messi has left the club?
Barcelona’s starting XI for the 2021/22 season
Naturally, Messi leaving the club changes everything and even in defence we can see the lasting impression the player will have on the club.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen will remain between the posts, despite pressure from Neto and young keeper Inaki Pena.
However, in defence we’ll see a notable difference from last season with the return of Gerard Pique from a long-term injury and new signing Eric Garcia likely tasked with partnering him in the centre. Jordi Alba will almost certainly keep his spot on the left flank and Sergino Dest will remain the club’s right-back, unless Emerson Royal can challenge him for the position.
In midfield, we’re likely to see Sergio Busquets keep his spot at the base of midfield despite turning 33 this summer. The Spanish midfielder looked back to his best at Euro 2020 and still has plenty to offer Koeman’s side.
In front of Busquets, Koeman will likely task Frenkie de Jong and Pedri with the job of dominating possession and providing service to a front line that will no longer have the benefit of giving the ball to Messi and hoping he does something remarkable with it.
Indeed, it will be this Messi-less front line that will have all eyes on it next season and in many ways it may actually work quite well, despite losing the world’s best player.
Assuming everyone is fit and able, Koeman will likely go with a front three of Ousmane Dembele on the right wing, Antoine Griezmann on the left flank and then Memphis Depay playing through the middle as a false No.9.
Even without Messi, Koeman will still have Ansu Fati, Philippe Coutinho, Martin Braithwaite and Sergio Aguero (although he is injured until November) to swap in or provide plenty of competition. However, some of these will likely be sold.
Even without the Argentina international, Barcelona should have enough firepower to get where they need to go next season.