analysis | 2017-07-14
What's next for Barcelona in the 2017/18 season? Necessary transfers and Valverde
Valverde has been appointed and the club has made mistakes in the market, discussing what should be done
Signings wise, the priority is getting rid of Mathieu, send Arda Turan to China, Alcácer is likely to stay but should be loaned out with an option to buy, and most of the players on loan should be sold (excluding Samper, Munir & Ortola). Mathieu should be replaced with Marlon. Samper should be the backup to Busquets. Munir should be the backup to Luis Suarez. Denis the backup to Neymar and Iniesta. A midfielder controller is a what we need the most, Verratti would be best but if not possible, André Gomes can be moulded into something similar. Thiago wouldn’t come and Bayern won’t listen to offers so no point talking about him though if it was between Verratti and Thiago, I’d go with Thiago. Rakitic could get a redefined role under a new coach therefore, he's worth keeping onto but if a good offer were to come, I wouldn’t be against the idea of selling him. Ivan has shown promise in this 3-4-3 system.
A new right back was brought in, Semedo is a fine option but from the start it's hard to say who'd be the best signing, but the profile has to be similar to Dani Alves. Fabinho has been a popular name, but he's played more as defensive midfielder this season, but looks to be off to Manchester United or PSG. It's time to promote Palencia, he has led Barcelona B and surprised fans this season, deserves a shot.
An actual traditional winger should be brought in. Someone like BVB's Dembele, Bayern’s Coman or Douglas Costa before he moved to Juventus. Players of that profile we lack and would be key for games like Alavés and Malaga at home this season. We also saw how useful it could’ve been in the second leg v PSG. Rafinha had so much space and 1v1 opportunities but didn’t make any use of it. We could’ve caused them so much more damage if we had a traditional winger there.
An unpopular but viable choice would be Mahrez. I know he's been poor this season but could be worth risking on since he’s around his prime years. There is a possibility he’ll be cheap since his poor form and if he is not good enough the investment wouldn’t hurt us at all since we wouldn’t have paid too much for him. I would only pay a maximum of €10-15m euros. Anymore, he isn’t worth it and we should go wait to get Dembele from BVB. Mahrez can play inside and outside. Due to him having being strong in 1v1's and being skillful it'd still maintain danger out wide whilst Messi would play central. None of the right sided wingers offer this sort of threat as we saw against Deportivo and PSG. I'm sure he'd accept a bench role at Barcelona. Perhaps a change of system could get him back to the level was at in 2015/16 and I'm sure the quality of players would help improve his form.
More expensive and better 4th forward options would be BVB’s Dembele, Martial and Atleti’s Carrasco. All are wonderful players. Zorc who is a director at BVB said that there is a chance that Dembele would go to Barcelona in the future but not before 2018/19. I’m a massive fan of Dembele, he would honestly be the perfect option for RW, he should be our main target for a winger. He can also play both sides and in midfield. After watching nearly every Dortmund game this past season I have no doubt he will be one of the best wingers in the world along with Leroy Sane who we missed out on. The price would perhaps be on the expensive side but I have no doubt the investment would be worth it. Would it be too risky not buy a 4th forward for another season so we could go all out for Ousmane?
Most people have seen what Carrasco can do so there isn’t too much point into going into detail, he’s the most matured player out of all the 4th forward options I’ve suggested but is still yet to hit his peak. He should’ve been bought instead of Arda back in the summer of 2015/16, it would’ve been a much better long term option and he was far cheaper than Arda too.
Martial is highly unlikely but I think he could be a wonderful option, Mourinho isn’t getting the best out of him due to the system they use. The price would be somewhat excessive and I’m not sure if he’d spend time on the bench unless Messi was moved central but he has all the traits we need in a 4th forward. He’s exactly the profile we lack but if it was a choice between between the three. I would go with Dembele, Martial and Carrasco in that order, though all are great. It has been said that Robert Fernandez is very fond of Dembele. There has been Dembele to Barcelona links recently so there’s a higher chance that he would come compared to both Mahrez, Carrasco and Martial.
Replacing Luis Enrique
The obvious choice for many fans seemed to be Sampaoli but he went to manage Argentina. The club should've considered the likes of Tuchel of BVB, Oscar Garcia of Salzburg and Quique Setien of Las Palmas. Being realistic, all three suggestions were unlikely to even be considered. My personal choices in order would be, Tuchel, Setien, Sarri and then Oscar Garcia.
Though these coaches are risky options, the reward is far greater than the risk. They bring things Luis Enrique lacked, such as positional play, more tactical flexibility, great pressing and enjoyable football, the last one is the key component. Luis Enrique does do things better than these coaches, but I won’t go into details as I’ve already listed some of the great things he done at Barcelona earlier. With this same squad I feel these coaches could do a lot more than what was done this season. Two really risky choices would be Sarri of Napoli and Berizzo of Celta Vigo.
Valverde, Koeman and Unzue are not much of an improvement on Luis Enrique and it came down it I would have rather kept Lucho for another year than getting any of these three. They aren't all bad but they aren’t going to take us forward much if they are able to.
Koeman is a no upgrade on Lucho. Simple as that. He was just lazily linked to the club. Luis Enrique is better than him in every department. Unzue hasn't consistently been a first team manager and I doubt he'd bring many fresh ideas which this squad needs and carry on the current style of play which I do not enjoy watching, good luck for him at Celta.
Valverde will improve the pressing without doubt but, other than we are all in the dark on what more he will bring. It doesn’t make any sense to judge him based on that six month period at Valencia over the 4 years he’s spent at Athletic Club. I’ve watched a fair amount of Athletic over the years for Laporte and Inaki. Valverde did really well with Athletic up until 2014/15. Since then his team has been regressing for many reasons such as Basque only policy, poor coaching and scouting. Their overall play has also deteriorated which could suggest that he is unable to come up with new ideas to freshen the team up. I do understand that he has to make the most out of Aduriz and Raul Garcia’s strength in the air but he also played the same with Inaki at striker when Aduriz was on the bench. It's hard to judge Valverde based on such an isolated chamber considering how Athletic Club works. As for the Barça DNA claims, it's nonsense: Valverde only played 22 as a backup striker in Blaugrana. Munir has played more games for us than what he did, for some perspective and Munir played like once every 3 or 4 games for us.
Valverde in Europe this season wasn’t great, regardless of limitations, he should be beating APOEL. On top of this, his team were the lowest scoring away side in La Liga up until late March this season. Interpret that how you wish but for a top table side these are pretty bad to put it mildly. If it was Valverde of 2013/14 then I would not have a problem with him coming but he hasn’t really progressed too much coaching wise for nearly 2 years.
Anything wrong? Send your correction.
WRITTEN BY: Sulaiman
Sulaiman is a Barcelona fan since 2005. He loves discussing anything related to the club. Sulaiman is currently studying Accounting and Finance and has a keen interest in Statistics.