Twenty days ago, I had written about the ‘perfect’ transfer window for Barça which included, among others, Timo Werner, Dayot Upamecano, Álex Grimaldo and Emerson. The four of them had added up to a transfer expenditure of around €215 million. Somewhat reasonable, in today’s hyperinflated market, but still significant. It’s fair to say that circumstances have changed since then. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc across the globe, sport has been suspended and so has cash flow into football clubs. In these circumstances, a summer spending spree does not look likely.
What does, then?
Well, with the Neymar/Lautaro rumours still persisting, it seems that Barça will still make (at least) one ‘Galactico’ signing, although that may mean no reinforcement in other areas. That would be scenario one; Neymar/Lautaro + returning loanees, perhaps? That would mean Aleña, Trincão and Pedri would be added to the squad, with Coutinho, Rafinha and Todibo remaining as possibilities. However, with reports emerging that Barça are looking to cash on the two Brazilians, Todibo might be the only loanee to stay with the Catalans, especially with Bild reporting Schalke will not be able to buy the Frenchman, due to their dire economic situation. However, with Barça themselves looking to cut costs, Todibo’s future still seems unclear.
That means that Barça would only sign a striker/attacker and would be left with the same options at the back, the weakest area of the squad. Furthermore, with the future of Rakitic up in the air, the midfield could do with some beefing up as well. An all guns blazing approach for a marquee attacker would be classic Bartomeu, yes, but it would leave the squad in jeopardy.
In that case, the club’s estimated total expenditure would be: €170 million (Neymar)/ €111 million (Lautaro). Also, in the unlikely case that Schalke decided to buy Todibo, Barça would have to pay a net €30 million to get him back.
A second and, perhaps, more sensible approach would be to look at relatively cheaper attacking options in order to facilitate spending in other areas. If Barça decide to go in for Timo Werner, who has a rumoured release clause of €60 million, that would leave them €100 million or so (of the Neymar money) that they could then spend on a centre-back, a full-back and a midfielder. At centre-back, they could look at Dayot Upamecano (est. release clause: €60 million) or even Yeray Álvarez from Athletic Club (release clause: €70 million). The club has, strangely enough, been linked to Aymeric Laporte of late, at least as per MD. There is no doubting his ability as a defender and ball progressor, of course, but his price tag may prove to be a hindrance.
Grimaldo should be firmly at the top of Barça’s shopping list. The ex-La Masía graduate is having an excellent season at Benfica and would provide some much needed quality at left-back. With a price tag of around €40 million, the Spaniard is relatively cheap as well. Alongside, the club could look at David Alaba, who has signed with a new agent recently and, according to Bild, may be looking at pastures new (market value: €65 million). With Alaba, Barça would get a true utility player; he can, after all, play as a left-back, a centre-back and as a defensive midfielder.
With these players, Barca would be looking at a total expenditure of:
- €160/170 million: Werner (or an attacker in that price range) + Upamecano/Yeray +Grimaldo
- € 135 million: Werner/equivalent striker + Alaba (est.€ 75 million)
However, if the economic situation becomes more dire, however, then Barça may be forced to reorient their transfer policy and instead look at players from other Liga teams. This may mean a lower net spend, yes, but it could allow for more signings. There could be reinforcements for all areas that need it. While a transfer window of this sort would be very out of place in the Bartomeu era, it may just pay dividends. Especially with Setien at the helm.
At this present moment, it’s impossible to say what will unfold. It all hinges on the containment of the coronavirus. All that can be said is that it will be a summer of upheaval. The winds of change are already blowing.