With the European summer fast approaching that means several things. For me, it means that the Australian winter will soon be here. However, I can't complain too much as a winter's day in Newcastle, Australia (where I live) is still often warmer than a summer's day in Newcastle, England. Of more relevance, is that it also means that the season of transfer speculation is fast approaching. Actually it has already arrived.
As the commentator on ESPN said in the game against Betis, the two most commonly used words in football over the next few months will be "LINKED WITH". Let's try to examine who is going to be "linked with" a move either to or away from FC Barcelona and how realistic are the chances of any of these projected moves actually eventuating. This article based on what I have read in the multitude of Internet articles on this topic.
I personally believe that only a few changes are required to our squad. It is not difficult to work out where these changes should be. With Eric Abidal's liver transport, Carles Puyol's knee problems and Gerard Pique's issues the major area that needs stengthening is our defence, specifically central defence and left fullback. Barcelona has been "linked with" plenty of players and not just defenders.
Possible central defence recruits include Thiago Silva (AC Milan), Jan Vertonghen (Ajax), Javi Martinez (Bilbao) and David Luiz (Chelsea). Of these Thiago Silva is the quality candidate but he will not come cheap. Signing Vertonghen could be more feasable as he only has one year left on his contract.The most applicable comment I have heard about David Luiz is that he is a better player than he is a defender. Barcelona also have a buy-back option for Alberto Botia of Sporting Gijon.
The most mentioned name for the left fullback position is Jordi Alba of Valencia. Some reports indicate that this is already a done deal. That is pure speculation but Alba also only has a year left on his contract and he is originally a La Masia product. Other prominent candidates for the left fullback position are David Alaba (Bayern Munich) and Gareth Bale (Tottenham). For Barcelona to sign Bale they would have to win a bidding war for his services. Given that Barcelona financial position still requires prudence, I see Bale's signing as unlikely especially as these days he is playing more as an attacking midfielder which is aposition we are well resourced. On the other hand, the thought of Gareth Bale as our new dynamic attacking left fullback is very appealing.
It has also been widely suggested that Barcelona are looking to buy a top class striker to boost its attack. The most prominent names mentioned have been Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) (RVP) and Fernando Llorente (Bilbao) as well as Adrian (Atletico Madrid). RVP only has one year left on his Arsenal contract. If he does not extend his contract, Barcelona could well be a possible destination as RVP is very good friends with Cesc Fabregas. Another possibility that has been mentioned is that Barcelona will look to bring forward the signing of Neymar from Santos. There are very strong rumours that a deal has already been done for him to come to Barcelona in a year's time.
I have left discussion of which players could be leaving until last. The number and identity of any
departures will be determined by the number and identity of new players signing. The player who is most likely to leave is Seydou Keita as he is apparently keen to move to a club where he can be a regular starter. He has been "linked with" clubs such as Liverpool and would represent a value sale.
There are plenty of other names that have been mentioned. The most prominent is that of Dani Alves who seems to have fallen slightly out of favour. He receieved widespread criticism for his silly dance of a goal celebration against Rayo Vallecano and his unnecessary sending off at Real Betis. Of any possible sales, Dani Alves would be the most lucrative as he has been "linked with" several big spending clubs such as Anzhi and Manchester City. The key decision as to whether Alves is likely to be sold is whether Martin Montoya is deemed ready to replace him.
Gerard Pique has been "linked with" a return to Manchester United. Depending on the quality of defenders bought, this move is not out of the question as Pique has attracted plenty of criticism this year both his form and possible off-field distractions. Having said all that, I hope that both Alves and Pique remain at Barcelona because we could not buy anyone whould be better than their best.
David Villa is another name that has been mentioned as a possible departure. I doubt that this will happen as he needs to show that he has recovered from his injury for another club to offer a fee that Barcelona would accept. If he does recover, I doubt that we could buy a better striker so why sell him.
It would not surprise me if at least one of Pedro, Alexis Sanchez, Ibrahim Affelay, Isaac Cuenca or Cristian Tello is playing for another club next season. In the case of Cuenca and Tello, a loan to a club where they would play regular first team football certainly makes sense.
In summary, Barcelona will be "linked with" plenty of prospective signings and several of our current players will be "linked with" moves to other clubs. We will have to wait to see how many of these moves eventuate.
All that I am certain of is that the more new players we sign the more of our current squad are likely to leave.
Barcelona's future depends on these crucial decisions: Let's hope we get them right!
Posted by: Drago , Columnist at 'Culé Talk'