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Pavard, Rabiot and the six players Barcelona could sign in the January transfer window

20:00 GMT+3 30/12/2022
Benjamin Pavard Bayern 2022-23
Barcelona aren't likely to spend big in the January transfer window, but with some areas to address, they might be inclined to dip into the market.

Most of the transfer discussions surrounding Barcelona are, once again, limited by financial restrictions. The squad could still use some investment, although, despite Joan Laporta's utilisation of the financial "levers", the money either isn't there, or La Liga won't allow the club to spend it.

That could be a real issue in January, especially because there are some clear holes in Barca's squad. Central defence, for one, is a big problem. Ronald Araujo and Andres Christensen aren't consistently fit, while Eric Garcia hasn't been particularly impressive when he's been available. Jules Kounde, meanwhile, enjoyed an excellent World Cup for France but spent almost every minute at right-back. He might have to play there for Barca too, especially given Sergi Roberto and Hector Bellerin's injury issues.

There is also room for improvement in central midfield. While there's huge quality already there, especially in Gavi, Pedri and Frenkie de Jong, that trio hasn't played together consistently. A bigger issue, meanwhile, is the fact that Sergio Busquets is approaching the end of his career and a long-term replacement needs to be a priority for Barca.

It must be emphasised, though, that transfer activity seems unlikely at this point. Barca are set to wait until the summer to assess their finances and perhaps bring in a player or two on free transfers. Still, should an opportunity come up, GOAL has taken a look at who they may look to target...

  • Benjamin Pavard Bayern 2022

    Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich)

    Pavard would be an interesting buy. He proved at the 2018 World Cup that he can be one of the best in Europe in his position, but he hasn't played a full season of football since securing a big money move to Bayern back in 2019. Now 26, he's more or less the finished article - and a good one at that - and his long-term future in Bavaria is anything but secure.

    The French full-back is, of course, remembered for his outrageous volley at the 2018 World Cup but he's never been a dynamic attacking player. He only has 12 career assists in club football and isn't quite the marauding full-back in the Dani Alves archetype that Barcelona are so regularly linked with. His appeal, then, comes at the other end and in possession, where he's a tidy passer and reads the game well.

    As for his situation at Bayern, the player seems to be at an impasse with the club on contract negotiations and his deal expires at the end of next season. Now could be the time for Barca to strike.

  • Ruben Neves Wolves 2022-23

    Ruben Neves (Wolves)

    Barcelona have been in the hunt for long-term midfield stability, and Neves might offer just that. He's an entirely different player from Busquets, but he has some qualities that could make him an ideal No.6 in Xavi's midfield three. His defensive positioning is excellent and, among defensive midfielders, Neves is in and around the top of the stats tables for blocks, clearances and interceptions.

    His passing is somewhat inconsistent, but at Barcelona he wouldn't necessarily have to be a playmaker. Rather, Xavi's side are looking for someone to win the ball and move it quickly. And Neves can do just that.

    The Wolves midfielder is also a reliable set-piece taker, and loves to shoot from distance - which is seldom a bad thing for a player of his type. The Premier League side would want a handsome fee for his services, but for a player of his quality, it might just be worth it.

  • Adrien Rabiot Juventus

    Adrien Rabiot (Juventus)

    Rabiot is one of a few players who saw his market value increase after the World Cup. He was a standout for France, turning in a series of solid performances to help Didier Deschamps' side to their second consecutive World Cup final. Transfer speculation has followed as a result, with the Frenchman being linked with major clubs around the continent.

    He came close to joining Manchester United last summer but stayed in Turin for the time being. Things might change now, however, and Barca could pounce. Rabiot's agent has supposedly been shopping the midfielder around, and he could be available for as little as €15 million. That would represent a smart piece of business for Barca, as the midfielder could fairly comfortably slot into Xavi's midfield and function as a reliable squad player for the long-term.

    He wouldn't be the most eye-catching signing, but at 27, with a winning pedigree, he'd be a sensible one.

  • Martin Zubimendi Real Sociedad 2022-23

    Martin Zubimendi (Real Sociedad)

    Zubimendi is one of the hottest young midfield talents in Spanish football. A defensive midfielder likened to Busquets, Zubimendi has anchored things for a Real Sociedad side that is very much in the Champions League hunt.

    It's a risky comparison, but there are some indications that the Busquets shouts might not be too far off. Indeed, the defensive midfielder is steady in possession and good in the air, as demonstrated in Sociedad's Europa League group game against Manchester United, where Zubimendi completed 93% of his passes and made five interceptions.

    Sociedad realise they've got a talent on their hands, though, and certainly won't let the player go for cheap - they will reportedly demand around €60m (£53m/$64m) for his services. Whether Barca can afford that remains to be seen, but Zubimendi is the kind of player that could anchor the midfield for years to come.

  • Alan Varela Boca Juniors

    Alan Varela (Boca Juniors)

    Varela was a crucial part of Boca Juniors' Liga Profesional-winning side last year, turning in a number of strong performances from the base of midfield as the Buenos Aires club made a late push for the title. European teams started to take notice, with most agreeing that the Argentine is ready for a transatlantic move, and Barcelona might just have an edge on the competition.

    Varela started his career at a Barca academy in Buenos Aires - a setup which the Catalan club has a strong relationship with. Reports from SPORT indicate that the Catalans even have an agreement with Boca to have first priority on any top talents that come out of the club's youth system. A move to an alternative club in Europe might make more sense for now - Benfica, for example, will likely need an Enzo Fernandez replacement - but Barca could still pull this one off.

  • Youssoufa Moukoko Dortmund 2022-23

    Youssoufa Moukoko (Dortmund)

    Barca certainly aren't the only club in for Moukoko. The young forward has generated interest from big names across Europe on the back of a handful of standout performances for Dortmund this year - and his exciting cameo against Japan at the World Cup only increased interest. He's scored 11 goals across 59 appearances - most of those games coming as a sub - for Dortmund, and is the youngest player to appear in both the Bundesliga and Champions League.

    The German side can't seem to be able to tie him down to a new deal, with his contract running out at the end of next season, and Moukoko has reportedly rejected a handsome extension. Despite the player having not ruled out staying put, it's all set up rather nicely for a European superpower to swoop in, and Barca could be the one.

    Xavi is compiling an exciting squad that has youth at its core, epitomised by Gavi and Pedri's standing as indispensables, and Moukoko would certainly fit in well as part of that group.