Following a desperate Champions League collapse and a shock Copa del Rey Final defeat, Barcelona will have to do some pretty serious soul-searching this summer. That process has largely already begun and it seems probable that they will make at least a couple of major signings over the next month or two as they bid to bounce back stronger next term.
For now at least, it seems as though Ernesto Valverde is going to stay. Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has publicly backed him on a number of occasions, even after a board meeting following the cup final loss. With few outstanding candidates to take over, it’s perhaps no great surprise and his side’s ability to ease to another league title has certainly helped his cause.
Here is how Barcelona may line up next term if they can seal deals for their top transfer targets:
Goalkeeper – Marc-André ter Stegen
Back-up keeper Jasper Cillessen is expected to depart this summer so Barcelona may be in the market for another goalkeeper. However there can be no doubt that Marc-André ter Stegen will continue to be the number one. The German had another very solid season and along with Leo Messi and Gerard Pique, he will most likely be the first name on Ernesto Valverde’s team-sheet next term.
Left Back – Jordi Alba
Jordi Alba is another who falls into that category. He tailed off slightly this season but had a very strong first half of the campaign and continued his almost telepathic relationship with Leo Messi. He chipped in with 8 assists in La Liga, easily the best tally for a defender in the Spanish top flight and at 30, he should remain a fixture in this side for the next few years at least.
Centre Back – Gerard Pique
Gerard Pique had another very strong season with only a couple of below par games, one of which was admittedly on that fateful night at Anfield. The centre-back remains part of the core fabric of the club and was the outstanding central defender in La Liga this term. He will certainly continue as Barcelona’s first choice centre-back next season but there are plenty of questions to be raised as to who is partner will be.
Centre Back – Matthijs de Ligt
Clement Lenglet had a strong first season in Barcelona colours filling in for the injury-prone Samuel Umtiti who has fallen out of favour and may be sold. It seems certain that at least one new central defender will come in and top of Barca’s wanted list is Matthijs de Ligt. The Ajax man is highly coveted but Barca have been monitoring him for longer than most and remain confident they will ultimately prevail in the race to sign the 19 year old.
Having already skippered club and country, de Ligt is clearly a born leader and someone of that character would certainly be an asset for Barcelona who have been accused of being short on leadership at times this term. He isn’t the finished product when it comes to his defending but if Barcelona are determined to regenerate this side, it may do them no harm to throw him straight into the side with the first half of the season at least unlikely to be make or break in terms of their silverware prospects.
There is still plenty of work to be done for Barcelona to get this deal done with the Ajax defender weighing up his options but you can back Matthijs de Ligt to sign for Barcelona this summer at Evens and Camp Nou still looks his most likely destination despite interest from Manchester United and PSG.
Right Back – Sergi Roberto
Nelson Semedo and Sergi Roberto have competed to be Barcelona’s first choice right-back over the past couple of seasons with the former starting to look the better candidate. However Semedo is reportedly unsettled by life at Camp Nou and Barcelona may be willing to entertain offers with Atletico Madrid keen. Neither he nor Sergi Roberto have fully filled the boots left by Dani Alaves but it could be that Sergi Roberto starts next season as first choice again.
Holding Midfielder – Sergio Busquets
Sergio Busquets is largely viewed as a declining force in midfield, no longer quite having the influence of old. That may to some extent be due to the players he’s had alongside him in recent years. Busquets though is like Pique and Messi, very much part of the Barca DNA and it’s hard to see him being brushed aside just yet although he will certainly need to have a better campaign in 2019/20 if he wants to keep his place in both the Barcelona and Spain sides with Atletico’s Rodri emerging as a very strong option in his position.
Central Midfielder – Frenkie de Jong
One deal that Barcelona have already wrapped up is the capture of Frenkie de Jong. He agreed to join the club earlier this season and that looks like a smart piece of business now with de Jong instrumental in Ajax’s run to the Semi-Finals of the Champions League. He will inject some youthful energy into the midfield and also possesses the passing game and vision which should make him a hit at Camp Nou.
Central Midfielder – Arthur
With Ivan Rakitic strongly linked with a move away and Arturo Vidal not fully convincing in his debut season, Arthur could be trusted with a starting role alongside de Jong when next season rolls around. The duo are likely to be key men over the coming years for the club and it’ll be interesting to see the pair in action together. Arthur won plenty of plaudits for his early season displays where comparisons were drawn between him and Xavi. While he faded slightly, the Brazilian showed all the traits of a player capable of becoming a regular fixture in this Barcelona side.
Left Winger – Antoine Griezmann
Barcelona’s main summer signing looks set to be Antoine Griezmann, who is expected to join twelve months on from having turned down a move to the club. The Frenchman reportedly agreed to join Barca as early as March and has already announced he will be leaving Atletico.
We may have to wait a while before we have confirmation of this one though. Griezmann’s release clause drops significantly on July 1st and Barcelona were accused by Atleti of tapping up Griezmann last season so they are likely to stay tight-lipped for the time being even though it’s assumed that some kind of agreement is already in place.
Manchester United and PSG may also be monitoring the situation but Griezmann is 1/5 to join Barcelona with Betfair and it’s hard to see the Frenchman not lining up for Barca when the new season comes around.
Striker – Luis Suarez
Leo Messi drew the headlines but Luis Suarez had another very strong season with 28 goals in all competitions. He didn’t do himself any favours with Barcelona by opting to have knee surgery after the Anfield defeat that guaranteed he would miss the Copa del Rey Final but most likely be fit in time for Copa America. The Catalans may look at bringing in a striker to develop as his long-term successor this summer but Suarez should still be first choice come August.
Right Winger – Leo Messi
The challenge for Ernesto Valverde will be constructing a team that is less dependent on Leo Messi. The Argentine carried Barcelona at times this season although did have to face some criticism regarding his captaincy. It’ll be interesting to see how he and Griezmann play together as they both like to take up similar positions on the pitch. However if things click, Barcelona could once again have a trident capable of firing them to glory both at home and abroad.