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Transfers

Morata's arrival, Dembele's departure and how Barcelona's January transfer window could look

12:00 GMT+4 03/01/2022
Alvaro Morata Juventus Serie A 2021-22
The Catalans have already signed Ferran Torres but there should be plenty more transfer activity at Camp Nou before the end of the month

Barcelona’s season has been a well-documented disaster to date.

They were seventh in La Liga at the winter break, 18 points behind leaders Real Madrid, and were turfed out of Europe at the end of the Champions League group stage. 

Ronald Koeman’s sacking and Xavi’s arrival has brought optimism to the club, but persistent injury problems and a recent Covid-19 outbreak has left Barca entering 2022 in a fragile state.

Summer arrival Memphis Depay has not convinced up front and does not appear to fit Xavi’s preferred tactical system, while Sergio Aguero retired because of a heart problem.

Luuk de Jong is much maligned, teenage loanee Yusuf Demir is already set to depart, while summer signing Eric Garcia is still settling in.

Barcelona are, therefore, desperately in need of reinforcements at both ends of the pitch, with only Ronald Araujo convincing at centre-back, while goals have been a big problem for the Catalans.

Since Xavi’s appointment, the Catalans have played with more purpose and intent, but still struggle in second halves and are not putting away the chances they create. There is a lot of room for improvement.

Potential ins 

Barcelona have sealed the signing of Ferran Torres from Manchester City for €55 million (£46m/$62m), but need to make savings to be able to register the versatile forward.

That deal highlights the club's precarious financial position and offers a helpful guide when it comes to predicting which other players could arrive in January. Indeed, it's clear that Barcelona will be hoping to secure players on short-term loan deals, perhaps with an option to buy in the summer.

Alvaro Morata is a target, confirmed by the club, although Barcelona will again have to get creative in order to bring in the Spain striker.

He is on loan at Juventus, who are willing to let him go if they can get a replacement, but his parent club Atletico Madrid will not want to reinforce a direct rival.

However, there may be room for negotiation with the fee Atletico will pay Barcelona for Antoine Griezmann, who is currently on loan at the Wanda Metropolitano. Morata, for his part, has agreed to the switch, and evidently would be a better player for Xavi’s set-up than Memphis.

Most other players linked to Barca are out of contract at the end of the season.

Chelsea duo Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen are potential arrivals, but with Thomas Tuchel’s squad having been hit hard by injuries and illness, it is unlikely either will be allowed to leave early.

Barcelona have also been following Borussia Monchengladbach’s Denis Zakaria, but he is not expected to leave until the summer.

Potential outs 

There are very few players in Barcelona’s squad who would not be sold at the right price, although they are particularly keen to get rid of certain players.

Record signing Philippe Coutinho is the biggest millstone around Barcelona’s neck. His €20m (£17m/$23m) salary is holding the Catalans back financially and Xavi has used him only sparingly as he clearly does not trust the Brazilian. Indeed, Coutinho is now behind youngsters Gavi, Nico and Pedri in the pecking order.

However, because of the former Liverpool man's massive wage demands, it has proven hard to find a buyer. The club are hoping newly-rich Newcastle United might offer him a return to the Premier League.

Samuel Umtiti is in a similar boat, although the France defender seems reluctant to leave and restart his career elsewhere. His injury issues, as well as his salary, mean clubs are reluctant to take a chance on him.

Yusuf Demir, on loan from Rapid Vienna, has not been training in a bid to sort out his future. After a promising start to life at Barca, his time is up. Xavi prefers B-team youngsters Ilias Akhomach and Ez Abde.

Dani Alves’ arrival, albeit on a short-term deal, may also pave the way for Sergino Dest to leave the club, with Xavi unconvinced by the United States international. Between Alves and Oscar Mingueza, Barcelona have sufficient cover at right-back to let Dest leave.

Loans

The difficulties of selling Coutinho and Umtiti mean loan moves where Barcelona still cover part of their wages may be a more realistic option.

In terms of youngsters, the Catalans have historically not been particularly keen on letting their La Masia talents out to play, and less so at the moment with so many injury worries. The pipeline direct to the first team has been restored after years of disuse.

And in the case of some players, like Riqui Puig, when loans have been suggested to them, they have turned them down in a bid to stay as close as possible to reaching their dream at Camp Nou.

However, young forward Alex Collado has agreed to move to Granada on loan after missing the first half of the season when a deal with Sheffield United fell through and it was too late to register him for either Barca or Barca B.

Contracts

The biggest issue at Barcelona is Ousmane Dembele’s contract, which expires in the summer. He arrived for €147m (£123m/$167m), including add-ons, but has flattered to deceive up to this point.

Injuries have stopped the France winger from playing regularly and his behaviour, particularly in his first years at Barcelona, frustrated club staff.

Nonetheless, they want to give him the chance to shine under Xavi, who is a fan and could use a player of Dembele’s profile to beat players one on one in wide areas.

Furthermore, renewing his contract would also help register Ferran Torres, because his transfer fee amortisation would spread over the additional years.

However, as reported by GOAL, talks over a renewal have now collapsed, meaning Dembele's future is up in the air.

Sergi Roberto is also out of contract in the summer, but the club have pledged to give him a new deal even though he is currently recovering from surgery. They will hope to substantially reduce his wage but no agreement was met before his injury.

Gavi’s contract is also a talking point, because his release clause is only €50m (£42m/$57m) and after bursting into the limelight, Barcelona want to raise it and offer him a salary more in line with his fine performances.