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Antoine Griezmann and Neymar, together at Barcelona: Can it work?

It’s tough to picture

Andorra v France - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

According to rumors, FC Barcelona want to sign both Antoine Griezmann and Neymar, two of the world’s best forwards. Even assuming Philippe Coutinho leaves, that’s still adding to a team with Ousmane Dembélé, Luis Suárez, and Lionel Messi. Can it work?

There are essentially two ways to think of such a squad. One in which Barcelona rotates Griezmann, Neymar, Suárez, and Messi, and one in which the four are used at the same time in the gala XI. Then there is the question of Dembélé.

There is the 4-3-3 option, most likely dropping one of the four marquee names. For example, Ernesto Valverde could drop Suárez and play with Griezmann and Neymar either side of Messi. Or perhaps the 4-4-2 / 4-3-3 hybrid we have seen before, with Neymar or Griezmann asked to drop into a band of four without the ball but also playing as a forward when the team ventures into an attack, with Messi and Suárez more permanently installed upfront more perman.

In a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 system, Griezmann and Neymar could play as wingers with Messi just behind Suárez. However, these are not the natural roles of the Atlético Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain forwards. They would be asked to collaborate in defense a lot, and cover the flanks in ways they are not used to.

(In some ways, perhaps Dembélé is more naturally suited to this kind of job. However, his long-term future could become quite questionable if the two star signings come. He may be looking for a way out this transfer window.)

This kind of system would pack an extremely powerful punch, but would it be enough in defense? And how about the midfield, would a double pivot consisting of two of Sergio Busquets, Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitić, Arthur, and / or Frenkie de Jong be the best way to use their talents?

It also changes the long-term planning, particularly in that there would be no space to sign a young, potential long-term replacement for Suárez. Griezmann and Neymar are different players than the Uruguayan, and though they are young, they are going to be on the older side by the time Suárez is fully done.

It will take a lot of sacrifice and tactical thinking from the players, and not to mention the coach, to make this superstar dream work. Are they all up for it? Is this the wisest course?

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