With Ronald Koeman continuing as the helm at Camp Nou, The Hard Tackle takes a look at three players Barcelona are favourites to sign now.
2020/21 was one roller-coaster of a ride for Barcelona. The season started in tumultuous fashion as Ronald Koeman did not hit the ground running. However, the turn of the year of the year signalled a shift in fortunes, with Barcelona playing some of the best football in La Liga. The campaign then ended just as it had started, with the Blaugrana dropping points galore to end the season on a bit of a whimper.
Naturally, as Barcelona failed to reclaim the league title, the future of Koeman was up in the air for a couple of weeks now. However, Barcelona appear to be sticking to their guns, with Joan Laporta imposing his faith in the Dutch tactician to see out the transition period and build a team that is worthy of challenging on all fronts.
To that end, some major changes are afoot at Camp Nou, which would entail the Catalan giants to offload deadweight while also bringing in a few more players to complete the overhaul. Three of the signings this summer have already been completed, but Barcelona still remain in the market for valuable additions. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle lists three players Barcelona are favourites to sign under Koeman.
By now, this signing is but a mere formality, with Barcelona already reaching an agreement to sign Georginio Wijnaldum on a Bosman deal, once his contract his Liverpool runs out at the end of this month. The transfer has been held back a little, with the Dutch international yet to undergo his medical as he has already joined up with the Netherlands squad for UEFA Euro 2020.
A move for Wijnaldum, though, is hardly surprising, considering Barcelona were hot on his trails last summer as well before he stayed put at Liverpool. However, with the 30-year-old running down his contract at Anfield, a Bosman move to Barcelona has been expected for the longest time.
There are murmurings of a late hijack attempt from Paris Saint-Germain, but Barcelona will fancy their chances of getting the move over the line, owing to the Ronald Koeman factor. From a sporting perspective, Koeman could also find a way to get the best out of Wijnaldum following a sub-par 2020/21 campaign with Liverpool.
After all, Wijnaldum played some of his best football when the Barcelona boss was in-charge of the Dutch national side, with his arrival also likely to enable the manager to shift to his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, which will have the experienced midfielder reprising the no. 10 role. A potential game-changing arrival at Camp Nou.
Another of former Koeman favourites is believed to be en-route Camp Nou this summer, once again on a free transfer, as has been the running theme for Barcelona so far this year. We are, of course, talking about Memphis Depay, who, like Wijnaldum, was courted by Barcelona last summer, as well as the January transfer window.
In Depay’s case, Netherlands’ talisman is now a free agent after the expiration of his contract with Ligue 1 outfit Lyon. And, heading into the transfer window, the 27-year-old is switching things up a little, having taken matters into his own hands, as far as negotiations to complete the move to his next club is concerned.
As far as the tactical side of things goes, Depay is just the kind of versatile forward who can fit in seamlessly in Koeman’s setup, seeing as he is just as adept at playing through the centre as he is when deployed out wide. Indeed, the former Manchester United star excelled in both the roles under Koeman himself during the manager’s tenure with the Dutch national side.
As per widespread reports, the completion of the transfer is not too far away either, as Depay has reached an agreement to join Barcelona on a three-year deal. And, with Koeman set to stay remain as the Barcelona boss, Depay’s final condition to make the switch official is also in place. The biggest move of his career beckons.
Barcelona are in the market for a left-back, but any move for priority target Jose Gaya seems to be a tad-bit complicated, especially following the entry of Atletico Madrid in the picture. A left-footed centre-back also appears to be a possibility for Barcelona, which is where Alessio Romagnoli comes in.
With both Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet facing an uncertain future at Camp Nou, it is hardly surprising that the Blaugrana would want to bolster the heart of their defence again despite the arrival of Eric Garcia, seeing as the potential departures of the French duo will leave them without a single left-footed centre-back.
In Romagnoli, Barcelona can find a solution to this issue without having to pay much in terms of transfer fee, as the AC Milan captain has just a year remaining on his deal at San Siro. In addition, any outlay can be offset by the sum recouped by cashing in on Umtiti.
In fact, Barcelona have already been offered the chance to sign the Italian international, with the Catalan giants themselves showing an interest as well. With Romagnoli already losing his spot to Fikayo Tomori, there is every chance that Barcelona could be his next destination, as he looks to revive a stuttering career. The likeliest of the defensive deals, this.