Barcelona have dipped into the transfer market already this summer by bringing in Arthur and there’s still talk another midfielder may arrive before the close of the window.
But for now let’s talk about the midfield options Barcelona already possess: they have a good mix of flair and composure, attacking mindset and defensive positioning, pinpoint passes and long shots.
With players like Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Philippe Coutinho as well as Arthur, Denis Suarez and youngster Carles Alena there are plenty of options to choose from.
The focus will surely be on the Champions League next season, and Ernesto Valverde may need to rotate his midfield at times so let’s have a look at the options available.
(Note: the combinations are chosen as per the role each player plays or can play, the style each one can offer and not just the formation).
Perhaps the most obvious choice if Valverde decides to play a three-man midfield and Ousmane Dembele starts as a winger, this combination ensures Coutinho’s attacking prowess, Busquets’ stability and Rakitic’s composure and versatility.
It could well be the No.1 choice next season and also allows the team to switch seamlessly to a 4-2-3-1 (wide), with Coutinho playing the CAM role.
The quintessential two-man midfield is Valverde’s lucky charm and that stuff works. The two players are in sync and understand each other’s style and positioning. While Rakitic aids the forward movement of the ball, Busquets falls deep making a three-man defence. But it’s downfall is quite apparent: a lack of creativity down the central line. This can be used in important matches where the team wants to sit back and hold a comfortable lead.
This option may bring in a much-needed dash of dynamic ball playing tactic (and some tiki-taka as well). New man Arthur has the potential to be a star and his exploits with Gremio have landed him amongst the biggest names and the best midfield line-up there is. He can slot in as the central midfielder with Busquets and Coutinho acting as a shield. Alena too, can pitch in for Arthur, when he’s fit. The two players like to dribble and pass with flair, which makes this position an interesting option. A regista in the making or just an experiment gone wrong, only time (and experimentation) can tell.
Sergi Samper has not managed to live up to his potential yet, but the midfielder is a real talent. There’s a strong chance he may head off on loan again, but if he stays and can keep fit he may be able to push for a place in the team. This blend with Rakitic guarding the centre of the park, promises free-flowing passing and a very stable midfield. Rakitic and Samper can switch positions as required which would solve further problems. This system would also allow Busquets to have a breather when needed too.
At some point in time, every Barca fan probably wanted to see this midfield in action. And maybe, maybe this is not a bad thing to try. After all, they know what it takes to play in the Barca midfield and are absolute talents. Will this line-up produce something of their own or replicate the Coutinho-Busquets-Rakitic system effectively? If this line-up is ever stationed, the results would be very interesting to see. There are some fixtures with lesser importance, such as the early rounds of the Copa del Rey, and Valverde could roll the dice with this interesting line-up.
Pretty much similar to some of the other combinations discussed above, Valverde can choose to rest Rakitic and start Roberto in his preferred position. This will be a big test for Roberto, but he has the all-important ‘Barca DNA’ and can be relied upon to come up with the goods when needed. Alongside the ever-reliable Busquets and with Coutinho rallying through the middle this trio promises much.
These are just some of the tactics and formations Valverde can employ if he chooses to experiment next season. Let us know which midfield formations you would like to see in the comments below!