It’s fair to say that things have started well for Quique Setien.
Despite coming in mid-season and replacing a coach in Ernesto Valverde who was, at the very least, appreciated by the senior members of the squad, the former Betis man has quickly injected his own style.
Joining in with the rondos and ensuring that his initial time with the squad has been spent as close to them as possible, has seen a quicker than usual integration.
It’s clear that the players already trust him and only the next few months will see whether his hire was a master stroke or not.
Over 1000 passes against a dogged Granada side also saw him win plaudits amongst the supporters, even if the win was by the slenderest of margins.
SEASON BESTS IN #BARÇAGRANADA— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 19, 2020
The green shoots of something special were there for all to see, and his promise of having the team playing attractive football once more, was certainly adhered to in that 90 minutes at a freezing cold Camp Nou.
But now comes a first real test.
Luis Suarez will be out for most of, if not all of the season, and if the Blaugranes retain a genuine interest in any of the competitions for which they’re entered into, then a worthwhile replacement is a must.
Since the news broke that Setien does indeed require another striker now, a number of names have been thrown into the ring.
Aubameyang is Barcelona's 1st choice target to replace Luis Suarez. [@ffpolo]— Z (@ZRAFC) January 21, 2020
Whilst his attacking prowess isn’t in doubt, and his pace will certainly give Barca something they’re lacking up front without Ousmane Dembele in situ, his age and price remain sticking points.
Often used in a front two at Arsenal, Setien may need to slightly switch his formation in order to accommodate the player in a role that comes more naturally to him.
Furthermore, with the Catalans having one eye on Lautaro Martinez in the summer, the Gunners’ front man isn’t just a short-term solution, so would the club potentially run the risk of not completing a deal for the Inter man?
Lautaro Martinez:— FootballTalentScout - Jacek Kulig (@FTalentScout) January 17, 2020
- quick & strong forward with decent dribbling skills
- great close control & technique
- superb off the ball movement & killer instinct
- good in the air despite his height
- versatile/would fit into any system
The mix of Aguero & Falcao. So good & complete. pic.twitter.com/dNk9JmlNAi
To that end, Olivier Giroud makes more sense. Age-wise, a six-month deal makes sense for the Blaugranes, and his experience, particularly alongside Antoine Griezmann in the French national team set up, make him a genuine candidate.
His hold-up play is second to none, and the chance for some regular games will surely appeal to the Frenchman, even if it’s for the shortest time.
Valencia’s Rodrigo Moreno has also been touted, and his style will certainly suit Barca.
Physical attributes and knowledge of the Spanish top flight put him in a good position to be considered, but as with Aubameyang, the cost to secure him and current length of contract will likely prove prohibitive.
Setien’s input to any deal will be paramount, as will the way in which he gets his new No.9 to dovetail into his system.
It could be the difference between winning a title or not.