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Barcelona must focus on departures after successfully pursuing targets

The wage bill must be balanced

FC Barcelona v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

FC Barcelona have done an exemplary job of pursuing targets. While the risk and reward of spending so much money can be debated, the players are all quality. And they have shown a willingness to join Xavi’s project that should make him very optimistic.

The club got two important free agents in Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen, a relatively cheap prospect in Pablo Torre, and two big signings in Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski - with Jules Koundé seemingly on the way.

Again, putting aside whether spending so much is wise, those were all players the team intentionally targeted, and they beat other clubs in those pursuits (notably Chelsea.)

However, what’s overdue in the transfer market is letting players go.

A couple of fringe players were transferred out - Moussa Wagué and Rey Manaj played a handful of first team matches between them, and that’s it. Ferran Jutglà was also sold, and though he at least had more of a role in the team last season, he was one of the lowest earning players on the squad.

Francisco Trincão was loaned out again, reportedly with an obligatory sell clause. That’s good, but again, not earth-shaking considering he was on loan last year as well.

The only big name the club has successfully moved to this point is Clément Lenglet. He was a starter for a few seasons but saw himself drop in the pecking order. They were able to loan him to Tottenham Hotspur. Not great for where the player was when Barcelona signed him, but good for the moment.

Now the club has to focus on the harder cases.

There are a handful of players that Xavi has not taken on the USA tour, who must know they are unlikely to kick a ball for the blaugrana next season.

Samuel Umtiti almost got a move back to France, but the deal collapsed. This is the player Barcelona desperately want to move. He’s on a massive contract and is likely to never play again for the team. Neto is being linked with a move to Napoli, which would be great as he’s currently third choice keeper but earning more than a lot of starters.

Riqui Puig and Óscar Mingueza are academy boys who have not progressed in the past year. They are good players with potential still, and their salaries aren’t huge. Finding a buyer in Spain should be relatively simple. Martin Braithwaite has reportedly had offers in Spain and England, but has not left for the moment. He is a starter at international level for a good quality team, and showed he can get goals at less glamorous clubs like Leganés.

Moving on, there are players who are on the tour but who may need to be sold.

Memphis Depay looks likely to struggle for playing time with Lewandowski’s arrival. A few clubs like Tottenham have said to be interested. He needs to make a choice about where to go next season. He is still a very quality player and should arouse interest in the market.

Miralem Pjanić has had a torrid time since arriving to Barcelona from Juventus and spent last season on loan. Xavi took him on the tour, but he’s a fringe player at the moment. He may need to look elsewhere again.

Finally, Frenkie de Jong is a controversial case. There are murmurs that he may accept a pay cut and stay, but he’s been linked with a move to Manchester United. He doesn’t seem to love the idea, though, even if he would bring the Catalans a lot of money.

Without the team making progress on a significant number of these departures, the transfer window cannot really be called a success. Lowering the wage bill when it came to fringe players was a priority, and to do so, players need to leave.

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