The Hard Tackle takes a look at three potential destinations for French defender Clement Lenglet as Barcelona prepare to sell him this summer.
A summer of change approaches Barcelona. Having made giant strides under the tutelage of Ronald Koeman, the Blaugrana are set for a squad overhaul, as they look to restructure in order to once again become a force to be reckoned with in Europe. This will also be a way to appease Lionel Messi and extend his stay at Camp Nou.
As a result, a number of departments are set to be addressed, with major changes on the horizon. One such department is defence, where a lot of refreshing is imperative, owing to underwhelming performances by a number of players. While the wing-back spots will be bolstered, the heart of the Barcelona defence is also likely to be reinforced, with Samuel Umtiti reportedly on the exit trail.
Additionally, it also looks like Clement Lenglet could be on his way out of Barcelona this coming summer, as per reports. The Frenchman’s stock has fallen a fair bit this season following some surprise error-strewn displays, which have then meant that he has been rotated aggressively this term by Koeman.
It, therefore, appears as if Lenglet is fast approaching the end of his time at Barcelona, three years after he arrived at Camp Nou from Sevilla, especially with Eric Garcia and another centre-back set to join the Catalan club. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle now takes a look at three potential destinations for the 25-year-old French defender, as Barcelona consider a summer sale.
They might be a surprise name on the list, considering Manchester United recently secured the long-term future of Eric Bailly. However, it is still paramount for the Red Devils to sign a centre-back this coming summer, and for good reason.
While Bailly is set to stay put at Old Trafford his injury woes have not eased up much this season. In addition, Phil Jones is likely to be surplus to requirements after having spent much of the last two seasons out on the sidelines. The third backup central defensive option for Manchester United, Axel Tuanzebe, meanwhile, is being linked with a possible return to Aston Villa.
That leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in a situation where first-choice centre-back duo of Victor Lindelof and captain Harry Maguire will be the only regular options that are at his disposal. However, seeing as Lindelof has been dealing with a chronic back issue this season, the central defensive situation at Manchester United appears to be rather grim.
With that in mind, it is clear that signing another centre half will be a step in the right direction. To that end, Barcelona outcast Samuel Umtiti has been linked with Manchester United, among a few other centre-backs. However, Lenglet would be more of a viable target for United, seeing as he has never really been sidelined with a long-term injury while also being relatively less suspect to errors.
In Lenglet, Manchester United will also have signed a left-footed defender, which could open up a few avenues when building up play from the back, as Solskjaer prefers in his system. All in all, this could be a move for Lenglet to start afresh after a whimper of an end to his Barcelona stint while the Red Devils will have signed a long-term solution at the heart of the defence.
Liverpool, on paper, might be in a better situation than Manchester United heading into 2021/22, with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all set to return from their long-term injuries. In addition, neither van Dijk nor Gomez is expected to participate in this summer’s UEFA European Championships and will, therefore, have a full pre-season to build their sharpness again.
Liverpool are also set to sign Ibrahima Konate, after having agreed personal terms with the French defender. However, it might be a sensible move to sign another centre-back, if it is in their means, with swooping Lenglet from Barcelona not exactly being a bad idea.
Indeed, Matip has been bogged down by a number of injuries in the last few years now, while Gomez has historically struggled to hit the ground running after a long-term injury. Meanwhile, Konate himself has had his growth being stunted by fitness issues, meaning Jurgen Klopp might have a tough time fielding one long-term partner for van Dijk.
If Liverpool do manage to secure the services of Ozan Kabak on a permanent deal, the need to sign a central defender might be alleviated. If not, though, Lenglet is a target worth considering, with Barcelona’s willingness to offload him likely to drive down his price to an extent that he becomes an affordable option for the Reds.
At 25, Lenglet ought to have his best years well ahead of him as well and under the guidance of the inspirational van Dijk, Lenglet’s error-prone ways might well be a thing of the past. The Barcelona star is an option worth considering for Liverpool, to that end.
A return to Sevilla might not necessarily be a bad option for Lenglet by an means. Los Nervionenses are currently in a precarious situation over the futures of Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde, who have coincidentally been linked with Liverpool and Manchester United, respectively, among others.
Kounde, in particular, appears set for an upward move in his career and is the likelier candidate for a summer departure. Lenglet, as a result, might be the perfect option to replace his compatriot at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, considering he is already well versed with the environs of the club, having previously spent a year there before joining Barcelona.
Additionally, with Sevilla set to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for yet another season, the 25-year-old will continue to vie for top honours. And, as illustrated this season, Julen Lopetegui’s men are closing the gap to Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona, meaning they could well be La Liga contenders again, making Sevilla an attractive destination for the player as well.
From the Andalusian club’s perspective, Lenglet’s acquisition from Barcelona would mean they could well have a surplus in cash after using the funds procured from a possible sale of Kounde. For all intents and purposes, Sevilla could probably be the dark horses in the race to sign Lenglet from Barcelona this summer.