The Hard Tackle takes a look at three potential destinations for Portuguese forward Francisco Trincao as Barcelona prepare to sell him in the summer.
When Barcelona struck an agreement to sign Francisco Trincao from SC Braga in January 2020, it was hailed as quite the coup. After all, here was a player who had raised eyebrows with his brilliant exploits in Portugal at a very young age and had a host of top clubs tailing him as a result.
Indeed, having made quite the impression through the youth ranks at Braga, Trincao burst into the first-team in the 2018/19 campaign and continued his rapid rise. The winger enjoyed a fine 2019/20 campaign, as he didn’t let the impending transfer to Barcelona become a distraction, finishing the campaign with a highly impressive return of nine goals and thirteen assists from 40 games in all competitions.
So, when he did join up with the Blaugrana this past summer, naturally, the expectations were quite high. Fast forward ten months, though, and the Portuguese sensation finds himself on the periphery of the first-team and could possibly be staring at an exit from Camp Nou just a year after having completed a dream move.
With Ronald Koeman taking over the reins last summer, Trincao, who had been signed prior to the Dutchman’s arrival, hasn’t been able to carve out a place for himself in the starting XI. While he has made 39 appearances so far, only nine of them have been from the start and just two coming in La Liga. The 21-year-old has tried to make the most of whatever opportunities have come his way, managing three goals and a couple of assists as well.
However, the recent switch of formation to a 3-5-2/3-4-2-1 has rendered Trincao incompatible, resulting in him pretty much dropping out of the picture. And now, Spanish publication Sport is claiming that Barcelona could look at the prospect of cashing in on the enterprising Portuguese in the summer, which makes sense given their financial difficulties.
While things may not have clicked for Trincao at Barcelona, there is no denying his innate abilities and the potential he possesses. His last season with SC Braga provided enough evidence of the talent that he possesses while the fact that he has already been capped six times by the Portuguese national team is another indicator.
So, there should not be a shortage of suitors should the 21-year-old should indeed be made available in the summer transfer window. And The Hard Tackle now takes a look at three clubs that could move to sign Trincao from Barcelona.
A club that has been previously linked with a move for Trincao, Arsenal could very well look to revisit their interest in the 21-year-old this summer as Mikel Arteta goes about building a team strong enough to challenge for the top four in the Premier League.
As things stand, Arsenal have a number of players capable of playing in the wide areas. Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka, Willian and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are all options at the manager’s disposal as is academy product Reiss Nelson, while Emile Smith Rowe has also shown that he can be an option on the flanks.
However, among the aforementioned players, only Saka and Smith Rowe have done well this season. Pepe, since his club-record transfer two years ago has blown hot and cold while Willian’s signing on a free transfer last summer has proven to be a major dud. And with the future of Nelson in doubt, signing a new winger could become pivotal for Arsenal, which is where Trincao would enter the picture.
While he may not become a regular starter immediately, the 21-year-old can be groomed into a star by Arteta, who has had a huge role in the development of Saka and Smith Rowe. A move could pay rich dividends for the Gunners in the long run, while Trincao could also get his career back on track at a club where a number of promising young players are coming through and making an impact.
Unlike Arsenal, AC Milan are very much thin when it comes to options on the right-wing. Alexis Saelemaekers has done well in parts but the little said about Samu Castillejo, the better. The Spaniard has been largely underwhelming since making the move from Villarreal back in 2018 – 10 goals in 105 appearances is hardly the kind of return Milan would have had in mind when splashing €25 million for his signing.
This season, Castillejo has managed a return of just one goal and no assists in 25 Serie A matches. Saelemaekers, meanwhile, has fared a tad better with two goals and four assists in 27 league outings but, as iterated earlier, hasn’t been nearly consistent enough to make the starting berth his own. And, amid rumours that the club could sell Castillejo in the summer, a move for Trincao could make a lot of sense for the Rossoneri.
The 21-year-old would provide more quality on the right flank with his pace, trickery and the ability to cut in on the left flank and have a go at goal or set a teammate up. The move would also be a shrewd one considering that Castillejo is 30 while Saelemaekers is 27, meaning Milan would have not only an immediate, but also a long-term solution.
Manchester United’s right-wing issues no introduction at this point. The Red Devils, for years, have struggled without a right-sided wide player in the ranks and spent the last summer trying to address the issue by attempting to sign Jadon Sancho first and later, Barcelona’s very own Ousmane Dembele. Their efforts ended up proving futile, though, leaving the club to bring in Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri instead.
While the duo is full of potential, they are still green and lack the requisite experience at the highest level. Reports have claimed that Manchester United could make a renewed attempt to try and sign either of Dembele and Sancho yet again but given the impact of the pandemic on the finances, the transfer budget available for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could be restrictive yet again.
This is where a move for Trincao could work for the 20-time English champions. The 21-year-old is someone that the club has followed closely and wanted to sign before his move to Barcelona. He is further ahead in his career progression than both Amad and Pellistri, having made over 80 senior appearances for Barcelona and Braga combined.
Playing for the Catalans, even if not regularly, will have provided some exposure to the elite level of football in Europe. The Portuguese international’s arrival would also allow Solskjaer to move Mason Greenwood to his preferred role as a centre-forward amid question marks over the future of Anthony Martial.