A year ago, things were tough at Camp Nou.
Lionel Messi was on the cusp of leaving, and severe financial restrictions meant it was challenging for the club to attract high-quality players. The results were clear; failure in Europe and a challenging start to the La Liga season.
Those pressures have eased a little, and in Xavi, the club have a strong coach who oversaw some impressive performances. This will be the former player’s first pre-season at Barca, and fans will be hoping to oversee a substantial period of recruitment. One area he’s likely to buy from is England’s Premier League, widely regarded as one of the best in the world. There’s been lots of paper talk about which players may hop across the continent and wear the blue and red next season, but who are they?
We look at three Premier League players linked with Barcelona this summer.
Leeds United were once a European force, but they’ve only recently got themselves back into England’s top flight. They struggled to stay in the division and might be in for another relegation battle next season. That’s not something that seemingly interests their Brazilian winger Raphinha; he’s angling for a move, and Camp Nou looks a likely destination.
The winger bagged 11 goals in 35 outings for Leeds last season and has broken into the Brazilian setup. He’s 25 and is another who could have a significant impact in Spain; he has great pace and is on an upwards trajectory. He might not be a huge name now, but that could change after the World Cup in Qatar, and it seems Barca are keen on a deal this summer.
31-year-old Alonso is no stranger to Barca fans, having played eight times for Spain. He is a former Real Madrid player, although he only made one senior appearance for them. Over the last few years, he’s been with Chelsea, lifting a Premier League title and a Champions League. However, the Blues are in turmoil, having been recently taken over, and are not likely to be among the outright favourites in the Premier League odds listed on Ladbrokes next season. That, along with 90 Minutes reporting Alonso has said he’d like to return to Spain, makes it a viable deal.
The left-back might not be the flashiest signing the club could make, but he would be solid, dependable and has a track record of playing for one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Neves has been sensational for Wolves over the past couple of years; he joined as they languished in the Championship but has been instrumental in establishing them as a Premier League force. Barca and Man Utd have been linked, but the £70m (€81 m) asking price might put both off.
It could also work in Barca’s favour, as Wolves might be open to a deal involving Frenkie De Jong going the other way, a like-for-like swap in terms of position. Neves is only 25, and there’s resale value should he thrive at Camp Nou, making this an interesting pursuit.