For the first time since manager Pep Guardiola took the reins at the club, Barcelona will finish the season without adding a major honor to its already stacked trophy cabinet—no disrespect to the Copa del Rey, which the Blaugrana can still bring home when they meet Athletic Bilbao in the final on May 25.
As such, expect some changes at the club this summer as they attempt to quickly put themselves back atop the pedestal that they have established in recent years.
While there will most likely be some high-profile players to pull on the classic Barcelona kit this summer, the less-heralded aspect of the transfer window—who will be leaving the club to make room for those new recruits—is just as important.
With Guardiola already announcing his departure come the end of the campaign, here are six players who could very well follow the highly decorated manager away from the Camp Nou this summer.
The Mali international is the most likely player to leave the club once the transfer window opens this summer, with his role becoming more and more diminished over the years since he arrived from Sevilla in 2008.
In a midfield that includes the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas, Keita has understandably seen limited action.
Throw in the fact that the club is continuously promoting young midfield talent from La Masia, and it is hard to see a scenario where Keita can become a first-team regular.
A tough-tackling, workmanlike midfielder who can occasionally pop up and surprise you with the odd goal, the 32-year-old still has plenty of running left in his legs, and could be a quality signing for a club looking to bolster its ranks in the center of the park this summer.
Liverpool were linked with Keita earlier in the season, with Malaga recently joining the fold as well. There is no shortage of suitors in the race for his signature, and it seems very likely that the Malian will be sold this summer—the only question is where.
Did you forget about these two? Don’t feel too bad, so did many others.
Both deals were facilitated by Traffic, a Brazilian sports marketing agency, and both are probably seen as mistakes by the upper management team in Catalunya.
The two Brazilians were brought to the Camp Nou from Palmeiras, and not on the cheap either. While Henrique arrived for a reported value of €8 million back in 2008, his teammate joined the party one year later, as Barca dished out approximately €14 million for the services of the highly rated attacker.
Since that time, neither player has come close to securing first-team action with the club—both are yet to make an official appearance in Barcelona colors—and that doesn’t seem likely to change.
Loans to various clubs have meant that the duo have been unable to make any impact on La Liga since they made their moves away from their homeland.
Henrique, the elder of the two players, has spent time at Bayer Leverkusen, Racing Santander and most recently, back at Palmeiras.
Keirrison, meanwhile, had been sent out to Benfica, Cruzeiro, Fiorentina and Santos on short-term loan deals, before Barcelona announced earlier this year that the 23-year-old would see out the rest of his contract with Coritiba.
At this point, it seems unlikely that either will ever get a chance with the Blaugrana, which means the club could look to sell them outright if they get an enticing offer.
The young winger was just the latest player to come up through the ranks of Barca’s legendary academy, and he quickly made a name for himself under Guardiola this season, making 14 appearances in La Liga to date.
Despite his impressive play near the end of the season—and the trust that Guardiola showed in him during big matches, most notably against Real Madrid—Tello seems a prime candidate to be loaned out for the upcoming season.
At only 20 years old, the speedy Spaniard still has plenty to improve upon at this stage in his career, and that will only happen if he is given an extended opportunity to play 90 minutes.
In all likelihood, that will not happen at Barcelona, given the players that are already on the roster.
If he stays at the club this season, Tello will more than likely continue to see the majority of his action from the substitutes bench, coming on for late cameos which allow him to beat tired defenders with his blistering pace.
There is plenty of interest in Tello’s services both within La Liga and abroad, which could be enough to facilitate a loan deal this summer.
Andreu Fontas made only six appearances with the first team before he sustained a knee injury during the club’s Copa del Rey encounter with Osasuna that forced him to be stretchered off the pitch in mid-January.
The 22-year-old has become somewhat of an afterthought at the club, with the promotions of fellow defenders Marc Muniesa and Marc Bartra from La Masia looking like a sign that Fontas has become expendable with the Blaugrana.
His lack of pace and slow turning ability makes it difficult for Fontas to be successful with Barcelona’s current system, which utilizes a high defence that requires those skills of its center-backs.
Young players can be taught and groomed to do many things. Being significantly faster isn’t one of them.
His physicality and aerial ability are both admirable qualities, but he seems likely to be utilizing them with a different club come next season.
With the club almost certain to bring in another central defender once the transfer window opens, Fontas will only find it more difficult to break into the starting 11, which makes him destined for the exit door.
Saving the best for last.
The most unlikely departure on the list is the towering center-back, who has long been considered a future captain at the club. With Barcelona’s shortage of natural central defenders, it seems ludicrous to think the club would consider selling the Spanish star, and it probably is.
But this season has not been an easy one for Pique, who has made more headlines for his romance with Shakira than for his performances on the pitch. The issues began before the season kicked off, as his relationship with the Colombian singer was the cause of some anger from Guardiola.
A perceived lack of discipline has seen him uncharacteristically left off the pitch for various matches this season, in both the domestic competition and UEFA Champions League.
Injuries have not helped the 25-year-old this season either, but until his issues off the pitch are solved, don’t be surprised to see teams lurking around hoping to pry him away from the Camp Nou.
Pique is, after all, still one of the most dominant center-backs in world football today. His ability to defend in one-on-one situations and his aerial prowess—along with his silky smooth skill bringing the ball out of defense—makes him critical to Barca’s success.
In an age where world-class defenders are few and far between, Pique is a rare commodity, and other clubs around the world recognize that.That is why these rumors, regardless whether they are unfounded or not, will not go away any time soon.
Agree? Disagree? Who do you think will leave the club this summer? Let us know by leaving your comments below.
Follow me on Twitter