“Barcelona don’t have transition seasons.”
Joan Laporta’s words, optimistic, rosy as they were, didn’t ring true for FC Barcelona 2021. The institution was a mess, the team was disappointing and the fans, well, they were less than happy.
The truth is that Barcelona desperately needed a transition season, and they got one. Ronald Koeman was sacked halfway through the season, with the keys given to Xavi.
The Spaniard had a ton of tactical support to back his cause, but he remains a relatively inexperienced manager. Half a season has passed quickly for him, leading the club to a second place in La Liga.
While Joan Laporta did his best to mix up the squad in the winter, the real transition came this summer when Barcelona acquired five five-star players in Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie.
Draining is also going well. Two days ago, Samuel Umtiti joined a list of 11 players who left the club on loan or permanently. And that list will likely continue to grow as we head into the final five days of the transfer window.
1. Sergino Dest
Dest has been left out of the matchday squad for all three games so far in the league, with Xavi preferring to use Ronald Araujo in that role. The boss refuses to elaborate on his decision, saying the player ‘knows his situation’.
Manchester United have been quoted with interest, but no discussion has yet taken place. Barcelona should keep looking for a right-back even if Dest stays at the club.
2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Aubameyang is Barcelona’s main candidate to generate revenue from player sales. He is the subject of interest from Chelsea and Manchester United, the former being preferred.
The Catalans are asking €25-30m for the striker but Chelsea don’t want to spend that much. They have already offered €14m, €18m and more recently around €20-22m for him, all to no avail.
3. Memphis Depay
Memphis Depay is in the last year of his contract and is unlikely to bring enough money to the club. He was actually going to join Juventus on a free transfer after terminating his contract with Barcelona.
The move fell through due to Adrien Rabiot’s failed United deal. Speaking of who, they’ve also found their way into Memphis rumors, but they’re unlikely to move anytime soon.
4. Frankie de Jong
Barcelona have done their best to eliminate Frenkie de Jong, with Manchester United and Chelsea ready to meet the €85m valuation for the player. However, he is determined to stay at the club and refused to leave for the Premier League.
That said, with so little time left in the transfer window, everything can happen.
5. Martin Braithwaite
Probably the toughest case of all: Martin Braithwaite.
The Danish striker is no asset to Xavi, the manager has made that clear on several occasions. He hasn’t been included for pre-season friendlies, official games and even the charity game against Manchester City this week.
However, he refuses to leave. There were reports claiming that Barca were going to pay him €5m to terminate the contract but with little to no updates since then.
6. Ez Abde
The Barcelona coaching staff would have admired Ez Abde, but at 20, with such a high cap, he needs and deserves as much playing time as possible. Hence, it looks like Barca are finalizing a loan move for the winger to Real Valladolid which could be finalized as early as tomorrow.
7. Miralem Pjanic
Finally, the only player Xavi has explicitly confirmed will remain this season – Miralem Pjanic. The Bosnian had a strong pre-season and was introduced as a replacement for Sergio Busquets but started on the bench against Real Sociedad with Busi suspended.
Rumors of his exit started pouring in, in no time, with Gerard Romero claiming that a Qatari side were interested in acquiring him. Nothing concrete yet though.