Barcelona might have to look for alternatives for Alvaro Morata. Here are three options for the Blaugrana to target instead of the Spanish striker.
The January transfer window has largely been one to forget for Barcelona thus far. While the turn of the year began with a bang with the arrival of Ferran Torres from Manchester City and the loan exit of Philippe Coutinho, the rest of the month up until now has been gloomy, to say the least.
The Catalan giants have been unable to offload unwanted players apart from Coutinho, with Samuel Umtiti’s latest injury particularly enabling him to extend his stay at Camp Nou. To make matters worse, Ousmane Dembele’s contract renewal saga has evolved into an acrimonious tug of war between the player and Barcelona.
The Frenchman is expected to depart as a free agent in the summer after likely spending much of the remainder of the campaign banished from the first-team picture. But their inability to sign a striker has to be the most frustrating aspect of the ongoing transfer window for Barcelona.
Since Sergio Aguero announced his retirement due to a heart condition, several strikers have been linked with Barcelona. Widespread reports initially painted Edinson Cavani as Barcelona’s priority, but as it has turned out, Alvaro Morata seems to be the preferred option for the club.
However, Barcelona’s pursuit of the Spanish striker has not borne any fruit thus far, even though recent reports claimed he was in advanced talks with the Blaugrana. The latest developments suggest that Morata is unlikely to arrive at Camp Nou.
In fact, the reports claim that Morata’s move to Barcelona is “impossible” amid obstacles imposed by Juventus and Atletico Madrid. So, even though Dusan Vlahovic is set to join the Bianconeri, they have no intention of letting Morata leave, with Atletico Madrid’s demands being prohibitive.
With mere days remaining for the January transfer window to slam shut, Barcelona will have to set sights on other candidates to end the month on a positive note. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle looks at three low-cost alternatives for Barcelona to consider as they turn their attention away from Morata.
Our first solution involves a player who has been on Barcelona’s radar for a long time. The Catalan giants were even briefly linked with him before he joined Chelsea 18 months ago. We are, of course, talking about Timo Werner, who has not enjoyed the best of times at Chelsea.
The German international arrived at Stamford Bridge amid much fanfare and hype surrounding him after a fantastic 2019/20 campaign with RB Leipzig. But while he has been one of Chelsea’s top scorers since joining them, Werner has struggled to perform consistently.
However, Werner’s issues at the west London club can primarily be attributed to his suitability in the Premier League and the system in place at Stamford Bridge more than anything. Those problems might not follow him to Barcelona if he moves to Camp Nou this month.
The La Liga heavyweights have already contacted Chelsea over a possible loan move, although his trail went cold following the emergence of the Morata rumours. But with the Spanish striker unlikely to join Barcelona, Werner could be an option worth considering for a loan move.
The German forward’s versatility and movement are his greatest asset, and his addition could introduce a new dimension to Barcelona’s attack, which has often appeared to predictable thus far this season. And while it is not a given that he will rediscover the prolific side to his game, it is a risk worth taking for Barcelona.
While Werner might not guarantee goals, one player who could do so despite his recent struggles at Arsenal is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. And unlike Werner, Aubameyang is almost guaranteed to leave Arsenal before the turn of the month, possibly on a loan move.
A player who has the experience of winning a Golden Boot in two of the biggest leagues in Europe, Aubameyang needs a change of scenery to get back to his best after what has been a horrific season for him at Arsenal.
The veteran striker’s style of play makes him a near like-for-like replacement for Sergio Aguero, even if he does not possess the same class as the Argentine legend. And unlike Morata, Aubameyang’s ability to play in a wider position and dynamic movement could make him a better fit in Xavi Hernandez’s system.
Barcelona’s interest in Morata has not waned much despite the Morata links, and his arrival on a short-term move could help them mitigate some of their problems in the final third. That said, some issues could potentially sour his stay at Camp Nou.
We are, of course, referring to Aubameyang’s disciplinary issues, which are the very reason he is no longer in Mikel Arteta’s plans and stripped of Arsenal captaincy. With Xavi being a stickler for discipline, any indiscretions from Aubameyang could spell doom for him at Barcelona. Stylistically, though, the 32-year-old is a viable low-cost alternative to Morata.
While we considered Lucas Boye and Kelechi Iheanacho as possible options, Barcelona might not be able to sign either striker. While Boye’s €25 million release clause leaves him out of Barcelona’s reach, Leicester City might not allow Iheanacho to leave this month, even on loan, due to the fitness issues plaguing Jamie Vardy.
So the final route for Barcelona could be seeking an in-house solution. Such an option brings a January signing and a largely unknown name into the picture – Ferran Torres and Gerard Fernandez, better known as Peque.
Torres has largely been utilised as a wide-attacker by Xavi since his arrival from Manchester City, although that might largely be down to Luuk de Jong’s recent resurgence. While the Dutchman’s form has been a breath of fresh air, the Barcelona boss will need to keep his options open if he does not perform consistently in the coming weeks.
During his days at Manchester City, Torres showed that he could play as a traditional striker. That is also a role he has reprised for the Spanish national side, at times ahead of even Morata. The 21-year-old’s movement is his biggest asset, which could make him an excellent option to lead the line for Barcelona. Alternatively, Xavi could turn to Peque if push comes to shove.
The Barcelona manager has already shown that he has no qualms about utilising a player from outside the first-team setup if it can benefit his team. Ferran Jutgla has been the biggest benefactor of this policy, with the youngster himself used as a striker by Xavi.
In a more desperate situation, Peque could benefit by being promoted to the first team, although that might be the last resort for Xavi. Nonetheless, the 19-year-old presents an interesting alternative to Barcelona’s decision-makers if they fail to secure the services of Morata this month.