Although it’s by no means certain Neymar will arrive this summer, the question of who might be sold to accommodate the Brazilian is an interesting one.
The same names seem to be cropping up in all the reports: Samuel Umtiti, Ivan Rakitic, Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Nelson Semedo and Malcom.
But offloading any of these players really will not be easy, and in fact there are a few the club would be unwise to include in any potential Neymar deal.
Let’s start with Rakitic. The Croatian is contracted until 2021 and has made it pretty plain he has no intention of leaving. He said in April he “doesn’t want to be anywhere else” and wants to see out his contract.
We all know that Rakitic is a big favourite of Ernesto Valverde’s. Even today there is a report in Sport insisting the midfielder has told his boss he does not want to leave.
Yet he is probably one of the most vulnerable names on the list. He turned 31 in March, could command a decent fee and the club have younger options such as De Jong, Carles Alena and (hopefully) Riqui Puig to think about.
The other most likely departure is Coutinho. The Brazilian admitted during the Copa America he was below-par last season and is not sure where his future lies after failing to impress since joining from Liverpool.
That has not stopped his agent, Kia Joorabchian, from speaking out. He reckons he has been told that Barcelona don’t want to sell Coutinho, but it is hard to believe that the could would not let him go if a good offer arrives. PSG might also give him the chance to revive a flagging career.
Dembele’s future seems to have been a constant source of speculation since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund in the wake of Neymar’s exit. He’s had an injury-interrupted time at Barca, but the club would surely be making a mistake if they were give up on him already.
The young Frenchman is still only 22, was dazzling at times last season and certainly does not seem unhappy at the club judging by the recent photos of him in pre-season training.
Malcom might be a different story. He hasn’t had much of a look-in at Barcelona, and reports have claimed Valverde did not want him in the first place.
The 22-year-old looks destined to sit on the bench again next season unless he does move on, but it remains to be seen if PSG are truly interested in the winger.
Semedo is another name on the list. The Portuguese star shared the right-back spot with Sergi Roberto last season, but there have been claims he will be first choice next season.
Mundo Deportivo even described Semedo and Dembele on Thursday as “untouchables.”
And then there’s Samuel Umtiti. The centre-back lost his place to Clement Lenglet last season due to his knee injury struggles but when he’s at his best there are few better.
There are still perhaps a few questions marks over his fitness, and we should soon see if he is 100 per cent again and can rediscover his best form.
Barcelona’s failure to land Matthijs de Ligt means next season’s centre-backs look set to be Gerard Pique, Umtiti, Clement Lenglet and Jean-Clair Todibo, and it looks unlikely the club will want to sanction the World Cup winner’s departure.
Meanwhile, Umtiti has made it perfectly clear he does not want to go anywhere. “I will be at Barcelona next season,” he said in June. He has also said he aims to be “200 per cent” next season and will be hoping to get his place alongside Pique in the starting XI back.