Barcelona Transfer Rumors: Ibrahim Afellay Loan Would Be Best for All Parties

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2012

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 17:  Ibrahim Afellay of FC Barcelona runs with the ball during the La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and CA Osasuna at Camp Nou Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. FC Barcelona won 8-0.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Ibrahim Afellay faces an uphill battle to earn consistent playing time for a stacked Barcelona side, which features a deep and talented midfield. The best move for everybody involved would be letting him go out on loan to ensure he sees the field regularly.

It's an idea that has been bantered about by the Dutch midfielder's agent, Rob Jansen, but there hasn't been a clear indication either way, according to Dermot Corrigan of ESPN. He reports Arsenal, Liverpool, Inter Milan and AC Milan are among the interested clubs.

Afellay should be close to full strength after suffering an ACL injury last September. Even though he made a return to the lineup in April, it usually takes around a full year before a player can get back to 100 percent from a serious injury.

Now that he's healthy again, the last thing he should want is a struggle for playing time. At 26, the midfielder should be entering his peak seasons. Wasting them on the bench isn't an ideal situation, even if it's while playing for a club like Barcelona.

Barca already has Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and Xavi in the middle. That terrific trio is the driving force behind the team's explosive offensive attack, and make the jobs of Lionel Messi and David Villa a lot easier up front.

None of them will be coming out of the regular lineup any time soon. Then there's also the defensive midfield tandem of Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets. They have both carved out a niche for themselves, as well.

That leaves Afellay and the other midfielders to battle for the precious playing time that will become available when those players are injured or need a match off. Even if he was going to move in to more of a forward role, the outlook isn't much brighter.

It's not the type of scenario a player with the track record of Afellay would normally find himself in, but playing for Barcelona is a completely different animal, which is something he knew before he decided to join the squad.

Going out on loan, whether it be to the Premier League or Serie A, would give him a chance to show Barca manager Tito Vilanova what he's capable of when given a full slate of starts. It's hard to prove much on the training ground.

There are some high-profile teams that have shown interest in him, and they wouldn't be so interested unless they were going to use him extensively. He would be a nice addition to any of the clubs mentioned above, mostly due to his versatility and attacking ability.

Getting a chance to play on a weekly basis would allow him to maintain top form, give his new team a boost heading into a new season and ensure Barcelona doesn't get caught having a valuable asset stuck on the bench.

Unless something changes in terms of the playing time outlook, a loan seems like the best move to make.