Last year Barcelona stifled Chelsea during their Champions League campaign as a potent Blues attack scored only one goal over two legs. During those two legs though, there were several moments where Chelsea deserved to score, and they probably should have won the game at Stamford Bridge.
During the match there was one player who shone unlike any other under the bright lights… an insanely quick Brazilian, Willian. Willian tormented the Barcelona defense all night and hit the post twice in that first meeting. In the second it wasn’t much different with Willian again in rampant mood when facing the Barcelona defense.
This summer, Willian’s name has continually come up in transfer rumors linking him to Barcelona. While his skill is unquestionable, many fans and pundits are quick to debate where he would play in this Barcelona team.
With so much talent in the front line, it seems hard to guarantee the Brazilian starting minutes in the Barcelona jersey. From a Barcelona perspective, there is the possibility of a much greater return on investment trusting Ousmane Dembele, the young Frenchmen.
Still only 21 years old, Dembele has been playing sparingly for club and country, but with greater minutes Barcelona fans could see more of the player who impressed so much at Dortmund.
Another decision potentially impacting Willian’s transfer is Barcelona’s formation. If Valverde continues with a 4-4-2, the midfield slots would be occupied by Coutinho, Rakitic, Busquets, and Dembele.
If there is a switch to a 4-3-3 then Coutinho would most likely slide in on the left wing, again leaving Willian and/or Dembele out of the team. With a transfer like this, it seems as though Valverde might have the final say – of course it is important to have reinforcements for the starting XI, but instead of looking at the transfer market, there must be a stronger investment in the development of the Blaugranes youth.
Only six years ago, an entire La Masia starting XI was fielded, something that feels like ages ago. Today, the only starters who grew up in La Masia are Messi, Pique, and Busquets.
Some of the greatest motivations for players growing up in La Masia like Thiago Alcantara and Pedro (both already departed) was the expectation that if they proved themselves on the field in the lower levels, their time in the first team would come.
Ultimately, Barcelona could justify spending on Willian, but just barely. With a long campaign ahead and the loss of a legend in Andres Iniesta, it might be better suited for Barcelona to look for additional midfielders, not attackers.
Arthur is a great signing, but also only still 21. It is imperative to remember that the younger players must be given the time to gain their confidence and to learn the Barcelona system. Willian is a world class player, but at the moment, doesn’t seem to fit into Barcelona’s plans.