“There are not doubled positions, and the idea is to have two competitive players per position.” These are the words of Xavi Hernández, coach of FC Barcelona, from last Saturday. The Terrassa coach was talking about planning the squad for next season.
Xavi wants to have all the positions doubled, and the members of the sports management led by Mateu Alemany and Jordi Cruyff are working on this. The desire of the Egarense coach will cause Barça 2022-23 to have a minimum of between six and seven new faces. One could already be seen in the goal. Neto’s departure is considered safe, and Ter Stegen will need a goalkeeper to cover his back and even compete with him. Iñaki Peña, currently on loan at Galatasaray, has all the numbers to be chosen. However, part of the sports management still wants to turn the issue around before deciding. The possibility of a goalkeeper from outside is not ruled out.
The defense will undergo significant changes. Barça currently has six central defenders: Piqué, Eric Garcia, Araujo, Lenglet, Umtiti and Mingueza. The first three will continue, and the other three will find a way out. At least one will arrive. He is already signed. Chelsea player Andreas Christensen will arrive with the freedom letter and has signed for four seasons. In addition, Xavi would like to reinforce the two full-backs. For the right, the chosen one was César Azpilicueta, who should also arrive for free. Still, Chelsea has unilaterally renewed the Navarrese for one year after having played 30 games. If he can break away from the London club, he will arrive at Barça, causing some exit in this position. He also wants the one from Terrassa to reinforce the left flank. He only has Jordi Alba. The player that Mateu Alemany liked the most will hardly arrive, José Luis Gayà. They have one more year on their contract, and Barça doesn’t want to spend much money in this position, as Alba is still indisputable. Names like Javi Galán, Alex Telles, Grimaldo, Tagliafico and Álex Moreno are among the players followed.
The center of the field is the line that, a priori, should present the fewest novelties. Xavi wants six midfielders, and he already has them: Busquets, Gavi, Pedri, Nico, Frenkie de Jong, and Kessié, who has already arrived from Milan with a release letter and has already signed his contract with Barça. If there were any surprises with any of them, there could be something new.
Upfront, two players are expected to arrive. One is the Brazilian from Leeds, Raphinha, whom Barça has negotiated through his representative, Deco. Reaching an agreement with the English club will no longer be so easy. The second new face must be that of a scoring center forward who makes a difference. With Haaland impossible, the chosen one is the Pole from Bayern, Robert Lewandowski. There have been contacts with those around him, and the player is delighted with the possibility of dressing up as a Blaugrana. He has one more year of contract with Bayern, and his departure could take place for around 40 million euros. Of course, he also has a renewal offer from the German club that, for the moment, he has not accepted. In the next few days, there will be news.
Problems to solve
Barça is clear about the positions to reinforce. Technicians and sports management. But they are also clear that for all these signings to arrive, they must first solve a couple of things that are not minor. One is the problem of financial fair play. Currently, Barça’s is -144, and it could be even worse in the coming weeks. To solve it, the board of directors will have to activate some of the economic levers it works: CVC, the sale of 49% of Barça Studios, and that BLM. The second is to make room for the signings in the squad. There are only 25 chips available, and you will have to look for ways out. Players like Alves, Sergi Roberto, Dembélé, Luuk de Jong, and Adama end their contracts. However, some of them are being negotiated for continuity. An exit will have to be negotiated with others like Lenglet, Umtiti, Mingueza, Dest, Riqui, Memphis, or Braithwaite. In addition, other players such as Coutinho, Pjanic, Trincao, and Collado will return from their assignments.