Darijo Srna is waiting to be summoned for a “final meeting” with Barcelona before joining the Spanish giants in January, according to reports
Barcelona have been repeatedly linked with a move for Darijo Srna after struggling to find an able replacement for Dani Alves, who departed for Juventus in the summer. Last month it was reported that Srna was “on the brink” of signing for Barcelona and it now appears that all that is left is a formality before the Croatian joins the Catalan giants.
Shakhtar Donetsk’s head coach Paulo Fonseca last week finally confirmed Barcelona’s interest in his player, saying it wasn’t his decision if Srna left but that he hoped the veteran would stay :
“I know of the interest.” he said, according to Mundo Deportivo. “It is not for me to take this decision. We know the importance of Srna on our team and we also know of his importance to the club.”
“He has spent many years with us, and I sincerely hope he does not go.”
However, the Shakhtar coach is unlikely to get his wish as in a separate report Mundo Deportivo claim that Srna is waiting on a call for a meeting with Barcelona before wrapping up his transfer to Spain.
The report states that all that is left to do is for Barcelona to reach a final agreement with Srna and for him to sign his contract in the meeting, which seems to be just a formality as both sides have already reached an “agreement in principle” and all that is left to do is sign the dotted line.
It appears that Darijo Srna’s move to Barcelona is a sure thing, but are Barcelona making the right decision by signing the ageing right-back?
Srna, who turns 35 in May, has spent 13 years and has only played for Hajduk Split – the club at which he started his senior career – before the Ukrainian club. His only experience outside of Croatian and Ukrainian club football comes from the Champions league, and this could prove to be a problem.
La Liga football is different from football in the Ukrainian Premier League, where Srna has plied his trade for almost all of his senior career. At 35, he won’t be given time to adapt and grow as younger players do, and he will have to hit the ground running especially as Barcelona are fighting to close the gap on league leaders Real Madrid.
However, Srna is a hugely experienced player. He has made 319 appearances for Shakhtar Donetsk and has made a total of 133 appearances in European football in his career. His Champions League experience could be invaluable, as Barcelona’s current right-backs are highly inexperienced and could be overawed by the occasion should Barca progress through the competition.
The Croatian captain is also a proven leader, having captained both club and country until his retirement from the latter, after he led them to the knock-out phase of the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament. A team can never have too many leaders, and Barcelona would definitely benefit from having someone this seasoned in their side.
Srna would also fit in seamlessly with Barcelona’s attacking ethos. At one time considered one of the best attacking right-backs in the world, Srna is still averaging 2.6 key passes a game across all competitions – which is an impressive figure for a right-back. That the Croatian finished with the most assists (12) in the Ukrainian Premier League in the 2012-13 season is a testament to this.
He is also an expert when it comes to set pieces – although Barcelona have no shortage of those. His crossing ability and marauding runs forward should sit well with Barcelona’s three strikers, who are lethal in front of goal and would welcome the added attacking support.
The big question is this – at 34, does Srna have what it takes physically to cope with competition at a higher standard than he has played at his entire career? By all accounts, Srna is still in peak physical condition.
While he might not have the pace that he used to, the defender is still no slouch. He has not had any recurring injury issues nor any major ones, and has made more than 30 appearances for his club across all competitions for the last 12 seasons. That is impressive whichever way you look at it.
What Barcelona will get is a reliable right-back who knows everything there is to know about his trade, and has a trick or two up his sleeve. What they won’t get is a sprightly young right-back who will tear teams apart. As a short-term option, Srna is not the worst option in the world for the Catalans.
Srna is one of those players who has been perennially linked with moves to big clubs and a player that many fans have been excited over signing. Srna’s loyalty to Shakhtar kept him at the club has seen him turn down several offers from big clubs such as Chelsea and Bayern Munich.
However, it seems like one last hurrah with Barcelona was too much to resist for the Croatian and we might finally be able to get a glimpse of what he is truly capable of in a team filled with superstars.