Barcelona have gone back to the drawing board after their humiliating Champions League exit last week.
It has long been apparent that problems are rife at Camp Nou, no less than after a series of late-season fumbles essentially gave Real Madrid a free run at the La Liga title.
Combine that with a disappointing campaign in the Copa del Rey and questions being raised about Lionel Messi’s future for a pretty toxic atmosphere going into the Bayern Munich game.
Changes needed at Barca
But although nobody was surprised that Bayern came out on top in Lisbon, it was the nature of the defeat that caught everybody off guard with the Bavarians registering an 8-2 drubbing.
It was, by all accounts, Barcelona’s most embarrassing result of the modern era and one that surely necessitates wholesale changes going into the 2020/21 campaign.
To the absolute shock of nobody, Quique Setien’s head rolled just a few days after the result and Ronald Koeman looks set to replace him, but a makeover of the squad itself also seems inevitable.
Who would Barca sign?
It’s a prospect that must have Barca fans a little apprehensive when you consider the club’s woeful recruitment strategy in recent years – Antoine Griezmann and Philipp Coutinho, cough, cough.
However, you can’t help feeling that the crux of the issue is removing the club’s deadwood and as such, Barca could look like an entirely different team when they take to the pitch in 2020/21.
And here at GIVEMESPORT, we decided to put ourselves in the shoes of Josep Maria Bartomeu – quite the worrying prospect, right? – to try and unravel the knots and tangles of this Barca squad.
It led us to construct a potential starting XI for next season, on the assumption they can secure some of their biggest targets, which we think could produce marked improvements in Catalonia.
Potential 2020/21 XI
So, without further ado, step aside Koeman and check out the realistic-ish team that we think could steady the ship at Barcelona in 2020/21:
GK - Marc-Andre ter Stegen
It’s no coincidence that Ter Stegen is reportedly one of just five Barca players for whom they won’t consider bids this summer and frankly, why would they?
MATS is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and shipping eight goals against Bayern doesn’t change that fact. Keep in Catalonia at all costs.
RB – Ricardo Pereira
Would this signing set the world alight? Absolutely not, but Nelson Semedo’s performance in Lisbon was an absolute train wreck and Barca need to provide some serious competition at right-back.
For that reason, if nothing else, Pereira would have to be viewed as a seriously underrated coup for Barca and perhaps the best right-back they could feasibly attract for a cut price.
CB – Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet
Am I picking the same centre-back partnership that conceded EIGHT last week? Yes, yes I am, but let’s not pretend as though Barca will be able to make signings in every single position this summer.
Give or take some bloke called Leo – heard of the guy? – Lenglet has arguably been Barca’s best outfield player over the last 18 months and the only way is up when you remember he’s just 25 years old.
And although Pique is undoubtedly past his best, he’s still one of the best centre-backs in the position and worthy of his place in the starting XI until a world-class alternative becomes available.
LB – Raphael Guerreiro
That’s right, we’re changing up both full-back selections because, simply put, it’s one of the club’s biggest areas of weakness and Jordi Alba looked like a faded force in the Champions League.
So, at the very least, Barca need to offer the Spaniard some stiff competition and we think the ever-improving Guerreiro would be both a feasible and long-term addition to the squad.
There’s no denying that his eye for a goal and assist, as well as his ability to play in midfield, would make him a valuable asset to the Blaugrana and one well worth opening the cheque book for.
CM – Frenkie de Jong
Neither De Jong nor his compatriot Matthijs de Ligt at Juventus have set the world alight since leaving Ajax, but we’ve seen flashes of brilliance from the 23-year-old – and it’s still early days.
There’s simply too much evidence of De Jong’s potential to become one of the world’s best midfielders to not remain patient and keep giving him game-time at Camp Nou.
CM – Miralem Pjanic
Look, I’m not convinced that Pjanic is better than Ivan Rakitic or Sergio Busquets as much as I’m sure plenty of you reading this article aren’t but, frankly, change is well worth trying at Barca right now.
Pjanic is a curious signing when you consider the Blaugrana are already an ageing side, but perhaps the pace of Spanish football could suit the Bosnian as a deep, connective tissue to our lucrative front three.
On the back of an 8-2 defeat, there can be no harm in giving the new guys a try.
CAM – Donny van de Beek
It seems inevitable that if Koeman puts pen to paper on a move to Catalonia that at least one of his Netherlands stars will join him and reports suggest that Van de Beek is the man in question.
Sure, proving yourself at Ajax is one thing and achieving it at Barca is another, but the 23-year-old has age on his side and has looked like a top-class player in the Champions League for two seasons running.
And his goals from deep, a la Frank Lampard, are exactly what the club need in a season where the dilapidated Arturo Vidal was the fourth top-scorer with merely eight strikes.
RW – Lionel Messi
He might be linked with an exit, but Barcelona should do absolutely everything in their power to keep arguably the greatest footballer in history at the club until 2021 and beyond.
We’re talking about a forward who produced over 20 goals and assists in the last season and although, yes, he is on the way down, there’s nobody in world football you could possibly buy to even hold a candle to him.
CF – Lautaro Martinez
Just today, we wrote an entire article on why Martinez’s stunning highlights against Shakhtar Donetsk show he’s the perfect Luis Suarez replacement and that’s exactly what he should be.
Suarez has proven to be a faded force over the last two seasons and while he’ll still get you 20 goals a season, Barca need to turn their heads to the future and Martinez is one of the sport’s most exciting youngsters.
Twenty-one strikes for Inter Milan, an international rapport with Messi himself and bags upon bags of talents – Barca simply can’t afford to miss this opportunity for their new number nine.
LW – Antoine Griezmann
Look, I’ll be the first person to admit that Griezmann has been bang average this season and if things continue that way in 2020/21, I’d be subbing Ansu Fati into the XI in an instant.
But when you’re talking about a World Cup winner, former Ballon d’Or contender and Player of the Tournament at Euro 2016, you’d be mad not to give them the benefit of the doubt.
We’ve seen plenty of examples of players needing a single season to adapt to a new club and while that might not be the case for Griezmann, I think Barca have at least got to try because the rewards could be lucrative.
GIVEMESPORT’s Kobe Tong says
Is this team going to regain the Champions League next season? Look, in all honesty, no.
The Bayern result highlighted that the issues at Camp Nou are manifold and it’s going to take a lot more than one transfer window of chopping and changing to return them to the top of European football.
So, sure, as much as I could have placed my head in the clouds and drawn up an insane starting XI to win them the Champions League, it’s simply not realistic in one summer.
And even then, I’m suggesting as many as four new signings in the starting XI, not including Pjanic, so let that demonstrate just how much work Barca have on their hands.
However, the major coup to be had is undoubtedly Martinez and I whole-heartedly believe that his long-term potential would make him worth spending a nine-figure fee upon.
Then, if that can be followed up with a long-term replacement for Pique next summer and Fati continues to come on leaps and bounds, perhaps we’ll start seeing Barca on the comeback trail.
Besides, sadly for them, you can’t rebuild a team as quickly as tiki-taka.
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