The last 18 months at Barcelona have been turbulent to say the very least.
A rare trophyless season, humiliation in the Champions League for the third year running, Lionel Messi’s transfer request, mass protests against the club president, three different managers. And, at the end of it all, a worrying financial situation.
Last summer, several of the club’s biggest names departed, including Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez. The upcoming transfer windows are expected to be no different, with a number of players rumoured to be nearing the exit door.
Of course, the question remains: where will they go? Let’s have a look.
Lionel Messi dropped a bombshell on the world of football last summer by announcing that he wanted to leave Barcelona. However, after a struggle with former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, he was forced to stay put.
It remains to be seen whether the departure of Bartomeu will affect his stance, but there will be no shortage of interest in the Argentine.
Manchester City have been the club most strongly linked with his signature. And, for a club looking to grow their fanbase further, bringing in one of the most celebrated footballers of all time will no doubt increase their stature (without looking to make a “haha Man City have no fans” joke).
Not to mention, he’s also quite good at football.
Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint Germain have also been named as potential suitors for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner. These rumours were recently reignited by comments by Neymar, who expressed his desire to play with Messi again.
Given the unlikelihood of someone signing both players in one window, a Messi-Neymar reunion would have to happen at PSG or Barcelona. And, considering La Blaugrana’s current financial state, Paris seems more probable.
For either PSG or Man City, the Argentine could be the man that finally brings one of them European glory. While both sides have won everything there is to win on a domestic level several times over, the Champions League still eludes them. Messi, having won the competition four times in his career, could be the final piece in the puzzle.
Frenkie de Jong
Since arriving from Ajax in 2019, Frenkie de Jong has had a varied time at Barcelona. He has often shown glimpses of what he can do without ever being able to consistently reproduce his best stuff.
Nonetheless, there is no doubt that the 23-year-old has the potential to be one of the world’s best midfielders, which is why Bayern Munich are reportedly looking at bringing him in.
Competition for places in Hansi Flick’s side is already high, with Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Thomas Muller, and Corentin Tolisso already battling it out for a starting berth. However, should Flick manage to get the best out of De Jong, then he should nail down a spot in the starting XI. Not to mention, squad depth is necessary for a side looking to win three trophies every season.
Furthermore, it could allow Kimmich to move back to the right-back spot, where he played for most of his early career. While the German has been fantastic in a midfield role, he also shone as a defender, establishing himself as one of the world’s best full-backs.
Once considered one of the best defenders on the planet, Samuel Umtiti’s stock has fallen massively – partially due to injury, and partially due to the form of Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet.
His rock solid performances at the heart of France’s World Cup winning defence seem like a very long time ago now, and he is constantly linked with moves away from the Camp Nou.
If he does finally get another consistent run of minutes, it is unclear whether he can reach the heights of what he used to be. However, if he can get back to his best, the Frenchman would be a very handy asset.
For both clubs, he could be a very useful addition. The Toffees have conceded the joint-fourth most goals in the Premier League this season, while Man Utd have also been uncertain at the back.
The Bosnian midfielder signed just last summer, but he has already become frustrated at the Catalan giants.
Ahead of their Champions League fixture against former club Juventus, Pjanic spoke of his dissatisfaction at his playing time. Unless he gets more opportunities, it would not be surprising to see the 30-year-old seek a move away from the Catalan giants this summer.
The midfielder is undeniably talented, having played for two of Europe’s most elite clubs. However, Barcelona paid a reported €60m just a few months ago. If they were to let him go, they will likely expect a similar fee.
Pjanic would be a tidy player for a lot of sides, but splashing out that sort of figure for a man of his age seems somewhat illogical.
Following the sale of Neymar in 2017, Ousmane Dembele was brought in for an astronomical sum from Borussia Dortmund. However, a series of injuries have kept the Frenchman from fulfilling his potential.
Dembele is another one who has a lot of ability. He’s lightning quick, an excellent dribbler, good with both feet – with a bit more cutting edge, he could be a truly frightening player.
Manchester United were strongly linked with the winger last summer, having missed out on Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho. The lack of a natural right-winger in the Red Devils’ ranks remains an issue for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has had to utilise the likes of Mason Greenwood and Juan Mata in that position. Dembele could be the man to fill that void.
But the question still remains: can he stay fit? That’s ultimately what it will come down to. If he can remain injury-free, Dembele would be very handy. But that’s a big if.