The Prodigal Son Returns Home
Xavi has been officially announced as the new FC Barcelona manager. He signed a contract until 2024. His appointment has been the reason for Culers to rejoice. Xavi was with Barcelona for over 25 years. He left the club in 2015 after securing his 4th Champions League title and the club’s second treble. He went to the Qatari giant’s Al Sadd and played there for 4 seasons before retiring in 2019.
After retirement, he took over the manager position at his club and completely changed the look of the team. Al Sadd played some beautiful football, just like Barcelona played all those years. A classic tiki-taka style and marched their way to the championship with an unbeaten season. When Xavi left Al Sadd earlier this month he left off in style winning 4 trophies in 2 years of being a manager, along with this he gave this team a completely new shape and identity of playing marvelous football.
The worst Start In Over 20 Years
The start to Barcelona’s season had been woeful as the Blaugrana are 9th in LaLiga with 4 wins 5 draws and 3 losses. They stand 2nd in their champions’ league group with 2 wins and 2 embarrassing losses to Bayern Munich and Benfica. More than the results the style of football was the factor leading to Barca’s downfall. They weren’t the club they used to be, dominating possession scoring beautiful goals this wasn’t found in this Barca team. Ronald Koeman was just trying to find results and didn’t really focus on the style of play which upset the fans as well as the board.
Xavi’s appointment is made at the perfect time. He is the right guy to give direction to this team and bring back the Barcelona style of play. We can’t expect miraculous results at this moment but we need to give this team time and trust the process. Players like Dembele, Gavi, Nico, Pedri, and even Depay will flourish under Xavi. We don’t know how the results are going to be but we can expect to see some breathtaking football which will entertain everyone.
Xavi’s Primary Transfer Targets for 2022 Summer Window
1. Erling Haaland
Which club in the world currently doesn’t want the Dortmund striker. He has been tearing apart the football world with his breath-taking performances for the past 2 years. Though his release clause is set at 75M his salary and agent commission which is set to be a whopping 40M by Mino Raiola which altogether costs the desired club approx 120M. Barca has the advantage of Agent Raiola and President Laporta has very good relations and the deal can be worked out. Another point favor of Barcelona is the player willingness and liking of the club in itself. But looking at Barca’s current financial situation deal to bring Erling Haaland to Nou Camp will be a task in itself.
2. Jules Kounde
The Sevilla defender is one of the most wanted defenders in the world with a price tag set at 80M. Considering his price tag and Barca’s financial condition things look a bit gloomy. Apparently, Xavi is a huge fan of the French center-back and would love him to play for Barcelona someday. Kounde is perfectly suited for Barcelona and Xavi’s style of play. He is a solid center-back with good ball-playing and controlling skills. A 75M bid from Chelsea was rejected by Sevilla last summer which shows that the club isn’t a fan of the player leaving.
3. Matthijs De Ligt
Matthijs de Ligt is not happy with his current role at Juventus. De Ligt has not pushed on as much as he was expected to since arriving in Turin from Ajax back in 2019. Injuries and the form of a veteran duo of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini have led to him missing an extended spell out of the team. According to Reports, the Dutchman is not satisfied with his position at the Club. De Ligt’s agent, Mino Raiola, is already sounding out possible destinations for his client in the near future.
One of the contenders is Barcelona, who sees De Light replacement for the long-serving Gerard Pique in their backline? Barça was among the favorites to sign De Ligt back in 2019 but they were eventually outmaneuvered by Juventus. Barcelona still admires the player and looks at him as long term solution for their backline. De Ligt would cost a lot in terms of money would be a difficult move for Barcelona considering their financial situation, but one can never rule out Joan Laporta to make bizarre moves.
4. Jose Gaya
Gaya has emerged as one of the hottest prospects as he is widely regarded as one of the best full-backs in Spain. During his seven years at Valencia, the Spaniard has already notched up 261 competitive appearances. Notably winning the Copa Del Rey in 2019. The 26-year-old has also won 14 international caps with Spain and was appointed as the Valencia captain at the start of the 2020/21 campaign. One of the problem areas for the Blaugrana is the left-back department. Jordi Alba has been an excellent servant for the club over the years. At the age of 32, his game and pace have deteriorated in recent times. After the signing of Dani Alves, Xavi would like to strengthen the left flank and Gaya looks the perfect candidate for it.
The arrival of someone like Gaya could certainly help Barcelona ease their transition in the left-back slot. He can not only add more quality to the team but also potentially emerge as a leader at the back. However, it will be interesting to see how much Valencia demand for Jose Gaya, knowing Barcelona certainly cannot afford to spend much in the market this summer.
5. Dani Olmo
Olmo has established himself as an advanced playmaker that can play across a number of positions with relative ease. Indeed, the Spain international’s real value comes from the fact that he can play on either wing or through the middle and still be a player that can create chances and make late runs into the box to score. Olmo is valued at around €50 million by RB Leipzig, His progress has not gone unnoticed. Dani Olmo has made massive strides since joining RB Leipzig. He has scored 10+ goals and assisted his team. Many big clubs in the world are on his trail. As things stand, Barcelona and Liverpool are vying for the 23-year-old’s signature.
Barcelona has a storied history with Olmo, who spent most of his formative years at the club’s famed academy La Masia. Olmo is up for a return to his boyhood club who even tried to snap him up late in the summer transfer window. Xavi would want him to maximize his dynamic ability to fill up a number of holes in the line-up. The interest in the Spanish international makes sense, considering Ousmane Dembele could leave as a free agent next summer while Martin Braithwaite and Ansu Fati are struggling with fitness issues. However, it has been suggested that player price tag might be an issue in his signing for Barcelona who might not be able to afford his €50-70 million price tag.
6. Karim Ademyi
Karim Ademyi has taken the world by Strom this season. He has been in sensational form in the Austrian Bundesliga and the Champions League. Ademyi has scored 15 goals throughout all competitions till now. He has been on Barcelona’s radar for quite some time. Salzburg values him at about 35m to 40m, sources say that Barcelona is already in talks to sign him for next season. If Barcelona is indeed successful in acquiring his services he will bring more firepower to this young side and can turn their fortune around. Xavi would love to have a young striker like him in his team. An additional advantage for Barca over here is Ademyi is a huge fan of the club and wants to play for this club since his childhood.
Cheaper Options That Barcelona Could Go For
- Rudiger (Chelsea)
The German defender has been at Chelsea for a long time. He has definitely enjoyed his football at Stamford Bridge. Recent developments have shown that Rudiger is declining any contract extension talks with Chelsea. This has led to many clubs gaining interest in signing the player on a free in 2022. Barca is one of the club interested and the club can afford the player as no transfer fee will be involved it will be just about the player wages and agent fees, plus he would be a really good fit at Barca as the club wants an experienced defender who is good in the air and on the ball.
2. Paul Pogba ( Manchester United)
The French midfielder has an on-and-off relationship with the Red Devils. When he first came in, he was a sensation but during the Mourinho Era, he lost his place in the team as looking to leave the club with Juventus and Real Madrid interested. The arrival of Ole saved his career at United as he played good football under him. Pogba formed a great partnership with Bruno Fernandes and dominated the play. It looked like a contract extension will be accepted by him. While Red Devils are interested in extending his contract Pogba isn’t convinced and this may lead to a free transfer next summer. Xavi would like a player like Pogba at his disposal. We all know how much Laporta loves signing players on a free. There stands a high chance that we can see Pogba wearing red and blue of Barcelona rather than the white of Real Madrid.
3. Pau Torres (Villareal)
The Spanish international has consistently been performing for Villareal and well for the Spanish national team. He has attracted many suitors across Europe and many clubs seem interested in buying the defender. There is no doubt that Barcelona has had Torres on their radar for quite a while now and would love to bring him in this summer to solve their major defense issues. Torres being a left-footed CB will solve many problems at Barca as they top quality left-footed center-back. Torres’s arrival boosts the team with his experience and morale. Torres himself would love to stay in Spain and continue playing his football.
4. Alexander Isak (Real Sociedad)
Often regarded as the next Zlatan Ibrahimović in Sweden. Isak has been exceptional for Real Sociedad for more than 2 seasons he’s stature and physicality is some of the best traits he poses and he had been in demand in the transfer market and it seems that this will be the last season where he represents the white and blue of Real Sociedad. It seems he’s ready for a big move to a bigger club. Barcelona could be one perfect move for him as Barcelona struggling in the CF department and Isak fits in their setup perfectly. The only hindrance in this deal will be his price tag which is rumored to be around 60m.
Immediate Solutions (January Transfer window)
Considering the need of the hour Barcelona and Xavi might have to get some players as immediate measures for this team. Here few options Barcelona can look for
- Raheem Sterling (loan deal)
The former Liverpool star is out of balance at this current Man City team. His starting position place has been snapped by academy graduate Phil Foden and the very hardworking Gabriel Jesus. It seems that Man City doesn’t want Sterling anymore. Talks have been held between Barcelona and Manchester City for the possibility of a loan deal or loan to buy option in the future for Sterling in the winter window. Xavi loves wingers and also liked the idea of Sterling arriving at the club. Sterling will arrive on loan till the end of the season giving Xavi options to play on wings.
2. Donny Van De Beek (loan deal)
Donny van de Beek has been tipped to leave Manchester United in January. One of Solskjaer’s most expensive signings may also be leaving the club after Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano tweeted that he expects Van de Beek to look for a move elsewhere once the transfer window opens. Solskjaer has publicly acknowledged that the Dutchman is unhappy with his lack of minutes, with the player making a telling statement earlier this month after hiring a new agent. Barcelona is rumored to be considering a shock January loan move for Manchester United outcast Donny van de Beek.
According to reports, Blaugrana is looking to make use of their connection to the 24-year-old via his La Oranje teammate FDJ. The pair were part of the Ajax team which reached the 2018/19 Champions League semifinals. With finances still tight at the Camp Nou, Barcelona is only able to offer a loan move, but United could insist on a purchase clause at the end of the season. This can come as a boost to the new Xavi-led Barca. DVB arrival can help Barcelona as he is a versatile player who can play and adopt any position in midfield. We feel a loan deal looks perfect for all the parties involved.
Xavi has a task on his hands to save the sinking ship that is Barcelona. It will be very interesting to see how he fairs at the highest level and copes up with the pressure, but we can expect some great talents coming up the youth ranks and flourishing under Xavi. Being handed a 2½ year contract clearly states the trust and backing he has from the board.
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