Barcelona has always been a place for some of the best talents in football to come together under a cohesive ideology of attacking football. Some of these players were in their primes while others with specific skill-sets were brought into the fold so they could be groomed as successors to established stars.
Barcelona has had a number of cases in the last few seasons where a number of talented youngsters joined the club but failed to make an impression in hostile and unfamiliar circumstances. The list in the last few seasons has been especially long, with the likes of Andre Gomes, Lucas Digne, Paco Alcacer and Yerry Mina, all finding a much-needed jolt in their careers outside Spain. Alcacer, in particular, has been a revelation, becoming one of the most lethal strikers in Europe under the tutelage of Lucien Favre with Borussia Dortmund.
The recent debate regarding the sale of Brazilian winger Malcom and attacking midfielder Denis Suarez has left me in a state of confusion. Malcom is obviously the more talented of the two and deserves every chance to make himself a regular. Not only does he have flair, but he also has the pace and intelligence to make runs that few players can. Malcom would make an excellent winger on the right (which happens to be his natural position) but Valverde seems to think that young players do not have preferences and throws Malcom on whichever side he needs rotation. This mentality has not helped him and it doesn’t help Denis Suarez. Denis is one of the most talented players of his generation and has shown his attacking capabilities wherever he has been in the past. At Barcelona, he is handicapped at a fundamental level--the Catalans don’t play his position. Barcelona doesn’t play with an attacking midfielder and that’s the only position that Denis seems capable of operating from. He doesn’t have the pace to play on the wings, and he lacks the positional discipline to play in the midfield.
Whether or not he leaves is anybody’s guess. Both players could be out this January but it seems unlikely that the club will carry out such big business in the middle of the season, especially with its budget constraints. Even if the club manages to sell these players, the chances of them finding a suitable replacement in the middle of the season is very low.
Selling them now will lead to generation of cash but not reinforcements, and the club cannot gamble with squad-depth at such a crucial stage of the season. Either they bulldoze-on with the current squad or they make sure that the players coming in are going to be a net-positive for all the effort they have made in terms of squad adjustment, negotiating efforts, financial constraints, impact on the resolve of upcoming youngsters and various other such variables. Would it all be worth it, just to have a shinier toy who may or may not be as good as the player available before?
Barcelona needed a defender and Jeison Murillo was a decent move, considering the circumstances. Barcelona’s attack looks pretty solid at the moment and unnecessarily meddling with the squad in January will not guarantee any results.
Barcelona should focus on their sporting project as opposed to the flipping of young talent who join the club with great hopes, only to be sold to the highest bidder. Such a finance-based policy would discourage youngsters from joining the club and will also affect the future health of the club’s sporting activities.
Barcelona needs a better plan but making changes in January could be more detrimental than one can imagine.