Camp Nou by Keiran Lynam is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Time To Rebuild

With Neymar now having officially completed his move to PSG, for a record breaking €222m, the spotlight has now quickly moved back to Barcelona and where they go from here.

Even before the transfer, Valverde would have needed to make changes to his team. With Enrique being criticised throughout his tenure for being too direct and not going through the midfield, the fans will have been looking for changes to make the team more traditional, to start playing through the midfield. Getting back to the Tiki Taka that they have been so renowned for.

What makes it trickier now is that Valverde’s safety net has somewhat weakened, and he is missing an outlet Enrique wasn’t. If the midfield had a poor game, he had Messi, Suarez, and Neymar, as world class talent, that could turn up a moment of brilliance to win a match. Of course Valverde still has Messi and Suarez, who can win games from nothing, but with both at 30 years old, they will soon need to start planning for a post-Messi Barcelona. With the youngest of the MSN trio now plying his trade elsewhere, what should ultimately have been a period of calm transition for Valverde, analysing what he needs, and implementing his philosophies and style, may now be put aside to ensure players are brought in to replace Neymar.

The main positive of the Neymar deal is they got the €222m up front, no long term payments, no nonsense. Straight into the bank, and readily available for use. The main negative, they got paid the €222m up front, and in a very public manner, so any player they would want to go for has just had their valuation rise. Barcelona may get players they want, but it won’t be at a price they are happy with.

So what are their options.

Buy Big:

It goes without saying that with €222m in cash Barcelona will have to make a marquee signing. The fans will not want the money to go straight into the club, they are a proud club, and PSG have dented their pride. It would only make sense for them to get that back by prying a key asset from another club, and reminding people that Barcelona only want the best, and will get the best.

Coutinho:

It’s not secret that Coutinho is on Barcelona’s shortlist, with Liverpool insisting that have no intention of letting their playmaker go. He would slot into the Barcelona left hand side of the first 11 almost seamlessly, he’d bring a style of passing, and flair that the fans would love to see.

There are rumours that Barcelona will go past the £100m barrier to sign the Brazilian, with a deal already agreed with the player, it’s down to Liverpools resolve whether or not they let such a key player leave. Barcelona often get what they want, and once a players head has been turned it is very unlikely to see anything other than a move happening.

It is probably worth nothing that Liverpool have not had the best transfer window, they signed Salah early on, but deals for Keita, and supposedly Aubameyang, have failed to materialise, and Klopp has partially conceded that no more transfer activity will happen this window. But if Coutinho were to move, it would free up a lot of money for Liverpool to add some much needed depth to their side.

FSG are are a very financially motivated ownership, and if the player was to rock the boat, and the right offer was to be made, it would be very difficult for them to turn the money down.

Mbappe:

Another player who could slot onto the left hand side an attacking three. Anyone who will have seen him last season will no he’s got tricks in abundance and knows how to finish.

Watching France V England, where he played off the left hand side, he only had to eye up a possibility of running at the defenders, and you could see the fear in the defenders eye. He could go right, left, on either foot, and make things happen.

But again, this player will come at a Premium. Monaco have sold several of their key players from their league winning season, and will want to maintain enough of their quality to compete again this season.

At only 18 years old, and with Manchester City, PSG, and more importantly Real Madrid, all interested, it could go past the £120m mark to get the young man. Especially if Real Madrid are serious about their interest, they will push the bidding high to get their man, and neither team will want to lose out to their rival.

Ousmane Dembele:

With a breakthrough season at Dortmund, and only 20 years old, reports are suggesting Dortmund will unwillingly part with him for €100mil. He can operate in behind the striker, and with 8 goals and 18 assists in all competitions last season he would definitely fit well into the Barcelona team.

Dortmund are known for being a selling club, but with a good, young team, in place it would be a backwards step for them to sell one of their key assets, especially after Aubameyang has commited his loyalty for the coming season at least. They could be a force again if they keep their current squad together.

Replace Internally:

Barcelona chose to activate the buy back clause in Gerard Deulofeu’s contract this summer. A versatile player, only 23 years old, and can play in a host of attacking positions. Can he up and make a name for himself at the club where it all began?

He was in and out of the Everton team before they agreed to loan him to AC Milan for the 16/17 season, where he picked up 4 goals and 3 assists in 17 appearances for the Rosseneri. Clearly a player with talent, but with a lot of improvement needed. He has plenty of time on his side, it will be interesting to see if he can improve his game and become a regular at the Nou Camp.

An almost forgotten figure, with options to loan, is already at the Nou Camp in the shape of Arda Turan, who had an impressive 16/17 pre season, but was ultimately a peripheral figure once MSN were reunited, and started to fire on all cylinders. Turan found himself short of games and back on the bench.

A very technically gifted player, who only recently retired from the Turkish national side. He would provide an outlet, and a classic passing style of play.

Or do they look to La Masia?

It’s set an impossibly high standard, bringing through the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, but it’s well has almost run dry in recent seasons. Players have come through, but have not made the mark that the fans crave, unfortunately when you bring through a series of world beaters in succession, unfair comparisons will be made, and it can be hard for players to step out of their shadow.

What does Messi want?

Messi ultimately gets what he wants at Barcelona, the management will need to consult with him about what direction they take it order to keep him happy. They will bend to his whim, and whatever he believes will get the best out of him, will ultimately lead to getting best out of Barcelona.

A quote from Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s autobiography shows just how much control Messi has over the club, and the way they play.

“He went to Guardiola and said: ‘I don’t want to be on the right wing any more, I want to play in the centre.’ I was the striker. Guardiola didn’t give a damn about that, though. He changed the tactical formation. Guardiola had to listen to him. But I mean, come on, I had scored loads of goals at Barça and I’d been pretty awesome as well.”

The transfer closes on the 31st August, so whatever direction Valverde choses to take, his decisions will need to be made quickly. In an overinflated transfer market that €222m won’t stretch to a large amount of signings, and it’ll be interesting to see if Barcelona will provide an extra wave of funds for the quick fix.

One thing is for certain, only months into his employment Valverde is already facing a worst case scenario, and should this season bring success or failure, he should be given time to mould the team into his design. If the season ends up being a disaster, then it would be a wrong decision to hold him fully accountable, but any success should be applauded.

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