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What will happen with Barcelona’s returning loanees?

Mixed fortunes last season

CA Osasuna v Elche CF - LaLiga Santander Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Barcelona are currently making plans for their squad ahead of the new campaign and have plenty of decisions to make, not least regarding those players they sent out on loan last season.

There were mixed fortunes for Barca’s loanees, some played regularly while others struggled, so let’s look at what may happen next and which players may have played their way back into contention at Camp Nou.

Ez Abde

There’s no doubt that Ez Abde was the biggest success story of all Barcelona’s loanees after a strong campaign with Osasuna. The winger helped his team to the Copa del Rey final and into a seventh place finish.

Osasuna sporting director Braulio Vazquez has admitted his team were “lucky to have” Abde but has also conceded it will be almost impossible to keep hold of him for another campaign such has been his form.

Abde Ezzazouli (midfielder; CA Osasuna) celebrates a goal... Photo by Fernando Pidal/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Abde made 33 appearances in all competitions, scoring six goals, and also doing enough to be called up to Morocco’s World Cup squad. There was more success there, as Abde made three appearances in Morocco’s run to the semi-finals.

The winger couldn’t have done too much more to try and impress but his future remains uncertain. Xavi reportedly wants to see him in pre-season but if a big offer arrives then Barcelona are likely to accept.

Abde is currently impressing again, with Morocco at the U23 AFCON tournament, and his performances could well attract admirers.

Barca have issues on the left of the attack, and Abde could be a solution, but the club’s financial situation unfortunately means a sale can’t be ruled out.

Verdict: Deserves a chance but may be sold if big offers arrive.

Clement Lenglet

Barcelona packed Clement Lenglet off to Tottenham for the season and have seen the defender play regularly in what was a pretty turbulent campaign for the Premier League club.

Lenglet made 27 appearances in all competitions and his loan spell will have helped restore confidence that seemed to desert him at Barcelona. The Catalans are hoping Tottenham will sign Lenglet permanently, but a deal has not been done yet.

Leeds United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Obviously the departures of Antonio Conte and Fabio Paratici will have caused disruption at Spurs, but with a new manager now installed there’s a chance that Lenglet’s future may be decided one way or the other.

Ryan Mason, who previously talked up a move for Lenglet, will stay on to assist new manager Ange Postecoglou which suggests there is interest, although the latest updates have claimed Tottenham are now looking at other targets.

Barca will have to look elsewhere if Spurs do decide against signing Lenglet. There certainly looks to be no room for Lenglet Barcelona with Inigo Martinez set to join Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen in defense.

Verdict: Barca hoping Spurs make a move.

Sergiño Dest

Barcelona loaned out Sergino Dest to Milan after it was made pretty clear he was not in Xavi’s plans. A purchase option was also inserted in the deal, in the hope the move would be made permanent, but there’s been no chance of that after a poor campaign for the full-back.

Dest simply struggled to impress in Italy, making just two Serie A starts all season long, and played only 13 times in total. Coach Stefano Pioli offered him some advice in January but it didn’t seem to make any difference.

“He played a good game against Torino. I told him that his problem is mentality. He must remain focused every day because he has important characteristics,” he said. “I don’t think starting in an attacking position is good for him. He has excellent intensity and dynamism and has the qualities to help defensively.”

Dest headed off on international duty at the end of the season but even that ended early with a red card in a wild game against Mexico that subsequently brought a two-match ban.

The USMNT star is now facing an uncertain future, with the rumor mill fairly quiet about possible options and even claiming he could stay at Barcelona - possibly because of a lack of right-back options.

Verdict: Barca would love to sell but might have to settle for another loan.

Nico Gonzalez

Xavi has admitted that Nico could have stayed this season but opted to leave because he wanted to play regularly. Nico headed off to Valencia but has had something of a mixed season, playing 26 times in La Liga but missing a chunk of the campaign through injury.

It’s not clear what will happen next but the rumor mill has talked up another loan move. The departure of Sergio Busquets, and Barcelona’s financial problems, should be good news for Nico but Xavi seems to have other ideas.

Valencia CF v Rayo Vallecano - LaLiga Santander Photo by Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images

Nico’s long been tipped as a potential successor to Busquets, but Xavi has said recently he does not see him in that position and think he’s better further forward like Frenkie de Jong.

“I see Nico as more offensive. He has a slightly more attacking mentality, more dividing, dribbling… To give you an idea, a bit like Frenkie de Jong this season.

Verdict: There’s a chance he could stay but a loan to Betis may be on the cards.

Samuel Umtiti

Barcelona waved goodbye to Samuel Umtiti last summer, sending him on loan to Lecce and agreeing to pay his salary for the season too, in a move that helped the club register new signing Jules Kounde.

Umtiti says he chose Lecce because he needed “peace and quiet” after a difficult time at Barca and certainly won over the hearts of the Italian side. The defender made 25 appearances and helped keep the club in Serie A for another season.

US Lecce v SS Lazio - Serie A Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

An emotional goodbye to Lecce followed, with Umtiti admitting the club were a “springboard” for him and he’d like to return to Lyon before he finally hangs up his boots.

Umtiti is actually contracted to Barca until 2026 but surely won’t play for the club again. A summer split looks inevitable, in some shape or form, with recent reports claiming he could even be released from his contract if an agreement can be found.

Verdict: Lecce loan should help him find a club for next season

Alex Collado

There’s no doubt Alex Collado has had a tough time of it in recent years. He wasn’t registered in 2021 which led to him going out on loan to Granada and he chose another loan this season.

Collado signed for Elche in a bid to “continue growing” but it was another tough campaign. Elche finished bottom and were relegated, Collado only played 15 times and saw his season disrupted by an injury that kept him out for over three months.

Girona FC v Elche CF - LaLiga Santander Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

The 24-year-old will now head back to Barca, where he’s under contract to 2024, but the club will be keen to sell. Las Palmas, now managed by former Barca B coach García Pimienta, could be an option.

Verdict; For sale for a small fee.

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