At the same time, the Catalan media has reported that the board would prefer a squad of only 22 players (which is less than the maximum of 25, and one less than this year.)
So you take 23 players, plus four promoted from the B team, plus four returning from loan... and you have 31.That's 9 players away from the ideal number of 22, and that's without signing anyone new.
Who will move on?
Considering there are 22 spots, it seems normal to assume that there will be two players per position, and I will analyze assuming that the 4-3-3 formation will remain.
Goalkeeper (pick 2)
On the roster: Victor Valdes, Jose Manuel Pinto
Promoted: Oier Olazabal
Potential signings: Marc-Andre Ter Stegen (Gladbach), Pepe Reina (Liverpool)
My take: Valdes seems ready to leave, so let him go. Pinto is a useful backup plan and popular in the dressing room. Sign Ter Stegen and watch him develop. Oier should be sold.
Left-back (pick 2)
On the roster: Jordi Alba, Adriano
My take: Alba is sure to stay, but Adriano is a more interesting situation. He is demanding lots of money, and he's very good and very useful all over the pitch which is great for a short squad. The only problem is his injury history. If the price is right for a replacement, it might be smart to let Adriano go, despite the fact that he's been quite good at times.
Right-back (pick 2)
On the roster: Dani Alves, Martin Montoya
My take: Both are great players, but both are being linked with moves away. That would be a bad choice. At worst, Montoya should be loaned out and someone else would come in. The question is who? One option is to move Adriano permanently to the right and bring in another left-back.
Central defender (pick 4)
Promoted: Marc Muniesa
Returning from loan: Andreu Fontas
Potential signings: Thiago Silva (PSG), Mats Hummels (Dortmund), David Luiz (Chelsea), Vincent Kompany (Man City), Marquinhos (Roma), I. Martinez (Sociedad)
My take: Ah, the big question. Well, let's start with the easy ones. Sell Fontas. Muniesa's contract will expire; if possible, he could be resigned and loaned, but I doubt it. There's no place for Abidal in this short squad, I'm sorry to say. He was a good servant, but Mascherano's time may be up. Bartra is an interesting case. He could be the future, but it's hard to say. Pique and Puyol will stay, and one new player at minimum will come in. The question is if another new signing will come or if Bartra will remain. Of the signings, it's quite complicated. Price will be the main roadblock for Silva, while willingness to move will complicate deals for Hummels or Kompany. Put me down for Hummels + Marquinhos, but it depends.
Holding midfielder (pick 2)
On the roster: Sergio Busquets, Alex Song, Jonathan Dos Santos
Potential signings: Kondogobia (Sevilla)
My take: Jonathan needs to be sold. Busquets cannot be. The investment in Alex Song was perhaps not the wisest, but now that it's done, it's probably best to retain him.
Side midfielders (pick 4)
On the roster: Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Thiago
Promoted: Rafinha, Sergi Roberto
Potential Signings: Gundogan (Dortmund)
My take: Xavi and Iniesta won't be sold. Shockingly, rumors say Fabregas or Thiago might leave. I hope it's not the case, although Gundogan is a very interesting idea. Rafinha should be loaned out. Roberto should be as well, unless an extra space is available.
Strikers (pick 6)
Returning from loan: Isaac Cuenca, Bojan, Ibrahim Afellay
Promoted: Gerard Deulofeu
Potential signings: Neymar (Santos), Jackson (Porto), Aguero (Man City)
My take: Of course Messi can't be sold, but after that, it's a free-for-all. The signing of Neymar seems imminent, but who knows? Aguero has been my choice for a few years now, but it's difficult to bring him from City. Cuenca should be loaned to Ajax again. Afellay and Bojan should be sold. Villa is probably on his way out. Deulofeu could be an end-of-the-rotation scoring option, or else be loaned out. I expect two of Sanchez, Pedro, and Tello to stay. One other signing would be good. Another option is to keep 5 strikers and augment another position.
This seriously calls into question the idea of reducing the squad size. Given the inordinate lack of depth this season at key moments, I question the wisdom of that idea.
The best thing to do might be to spend the extra money and keep 25 players. This would add more flexibility. Also, the team would be able to either sign more players or keep more players.
Eric Abidal might stay. I will say this: it's absolutely strange to offer Abidal a salary for anything that is not football and yet keep a squad size smaller than required. Abidal has been offered a position in either management or as a club official, but it seems the team does not want him to play. If there are open spots, I really don't get why they'd do that.
What is your take? Please comment!