Barcelona January Transfer Update ft. de Jong, de Ligt, Rabiot and more

By guest contributor Soham Banerjee (@IamSohamB). 

It's that time of the year again where the footballing world finds itself in a hurricane of rumors, swaps and crazy transfers. The January transfer window is often seen as the "secondary" or the "lesser" transfer window, but after the acquisition of players such as Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool or Philippe Coutinho coming to Barcelona during the window last year, it has clearly become a time of excitement and unpredictability. Being a premier club on the global stage, Barcelona has been linked to various players, some seeming possible and some not so probable.
Possible Transfers In
Let's start with the most aggressive rumor of this window, one concerning Paris Saint-Germain's Adrien Rabiot. The 23-year-old midfielder is known for his disciplinary issues, the hands-on approach of his mother/agent with his career and the reported wages that he would desire. Rejecting the opportunity to be on standby for the World Cup (a decision that other players have not been criticized for) has been spoken about. When one negative story is written, more surely follow, and his approach to the game on the field begins to be questioned amidst all the negativity off it. While he is known for fouling and what appears to be a careless attitude at times, he is still a fantastic overall player with a passing accuracy of over 90%. He is a player capable of playing anywhere in the midfield, though the option of playing a more defensive role and his rejections of the idea has led him into some hot water in the past as well. At time of writing, he still traveled to Qatar with PSG even though he hasn't played for the French giants since December 5th. His contract expires in the summer, so this story may take a few more exhausting months to be finalized.

Next up is the Ajax duo of Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong. Both are highly talented and are often prophesied as "perfect fits" for the Blaugrana. The former is just 19-years-old and has already made a name for himself on the global stage. He wins over three aerial duels per game and has a stupendous passing accuracy of 91%. With Gerard Pique aging and his fitness being a major concern, this is the right time for the club to buy a can't-miss young defender to fill the legend's boots. Jean-Clair Todibo may be on his way to Barcelona in the near future, but the current level of the two is not close. de Ligt is already a star for club and country and appearances in the Champions League knockout round against Real Madrid and a spot in the UEFA Nations League Semi-finals in June with the Netherlands will only raise his profile. The defender will be difficult to bring to Catalonia, and over the course of the window it appears that he and agent Mino Raiola are taking his talents elsewhere.

The other Ajax prodigy, 21-year-old de Jong, is probably the most sought after player in the current transfer window. If you search his name, you'll find rumors for a ton of the different giants. Just today, Tottenham is being heavily linked to the player. If you search his name with Manchester United, Tottenham or Real Madrid; he's already on his way. The truth lies somewhere closer to Barcelona, Manchester City and PSG being the favorites for his signature. The January window is not when he will join a new club, but the giants are hoping to get an agreement for him to come in the summer. Performances with Ajax and the Oranje have turned him into a star in his own right and this saga could end today or six months from now. Most agree that he's the one player that's "worth it" for all this headache; but expect an online riot if he doesn't wind up at Barcelona.

These aren't the only rumors about potential incoming players, but those who choose to engage in the news about a possible Neymar reunion are only looking for trouble. The more realistic target for January is a "9" to back up Luis Suárez. He'll be a player with experience that is available on the cheap, most likely on a loan similar to that of Jeison Murillo.

Possible Transfer Out

Munir El-Haddadi has already signed for Sevilla for 1.05 million euros and made an eleven minute cameo in the 2-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao. His departure has led to a search for a new forward to back up the man in the middle. Yet, Munir wasn't the name expected to be the first out the door when the window opened; that distinction goes to Denis Suárez. After being linked with a loan move to Arsenal that would have reunited him with old boss Unai Emery, the rumors have gone quiet and he is still making appearances for the club (against Levante in the Copa del Rey) and making the bench against Eibar over players who aren't expected to leave.

The other player it would be hard to blame for leaving is Jasper Cillessen. The club has been lucky to have Cillessen as the second keeper. He has made incredible saves throughout the season whenever called upon and has not had a bad performance. Considering his quality, he is expecting more game time, though the club may not be able to provide such an ask with the quality of Marc-André ter Stegen, who has found a way to raise his game once again. Cillessen would fetch a decent fee, but Barcelona would still need to reinvest some of that for a player that would serve as the back-up until Iñaki Peña is ready for the role.

Speaking of players not expected to leave, it would be a surprise to see Malcom leave Catalonia, especially in January. He has seen playing time hard to come by as he also combated injuries, but it's difficult to see his future at the club behind Ousmane Dembélé, Philippe Coutinho and Lionel Messi occupying another one of those forward spots for as long as he desires. Malcom has given his best whenever he's been given the chance to play for the club and yet he is being linked to Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande for a potential transfer of over 50 million euros, a move that would link him up with fellow Brazilian Paulinho. The Malcom move would be unlikely, but it would be hard to blame him.

Transfers have become an integral part of club football and are often a source of excitement and controversy. These transfers often shape the present and future of clubs and while January has historically not been the time for major moves, times have changed and transfers have changed too.