New Barcelona manager Luis Enrique is getting serious about overhauling his squad ahead of the new season. He has targeted three marquee names, including Uruguay sensation Luis Suarez, to help improve the team's attacking potential.
Barca weren't quite the same going forward last season as in previous campaigns. The signing of Brazil's Neymar, along with the conundrum of what to do with Cesc Fabregas, seemed to disrupt the balance.
Admittedly, players such as Alexis Sanchez and Pedro still found the net with regularity. Even talisman Lionel Messi, who struggled with uneven form compared with his normally superb standards, still produced sporadic moments of brilliance.
But at key times last season, Barca players were found wanting in front of goal. Their struggles to break down Atletico Madrid in both the UEFA Champions League and La Liga were the prime examples.
Suarez is just one option for fixing those woes.
Luis Suarez, Liverpool
If Enrique lands only one player this summer, it has to Suarez. The maverick Uruguay international is a true genius on the football pitch.
He would be the perfect complement to Messi's awesome dominance and Neymar's stunning pace. Enrique's chances of actually prying Suarez away from Liverpool have taken a positive turn recently.
According to Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo (h/t Daily Star reporter Chisanga Malata), Suarez is receptive to joining Barcelona. Mundo Deportivo even claims the prolific striker made the decision to quit Anfield after the penultimate game of the Premier League season.
If Suarez can be tempted to swap Merseyside for the Camp Nou, Enrique must pull out all the stops to get him. The 27-year-old is the type of selfless, complementary attacker who would help Messi return to his best.
Not simply consigned to a central role, Suarez is a roving attacker, equally comfortable drifting wide. That would create ample room for Messi to create havoc in those middle areas he loves.
In addition to his goalscoring exploits, Suarez is also a shrewd creator. He is lethal whenever he drops off the front line and is able to target pacey teammates with through passes.
If Barcelona are serious about getting the most from Neymar, and they should be, signing Suarez would guarantee improvement from the Brazilian.
Malata cites a report in Catalan publication Sport, stating Barca have both the resources and willingness to make a deal happen this summer:
Catalan newspaper Sport claim that Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu has made Suarez his number one transfer target for the summer and that the club have been in contact with the striker's agent.
Sport also claim that Bartomeu is willing to pay Liverpool a staggering £68m and offer them Chilean midfielder Alexis Sanchez to secure Suarez's services.
Add Suarez alongside Messi and Barcelona will have the most feared forward line in the game. It will certainly be good enough to bring silverware back to the Camp Nou.
Gonzalo Higuain, Napoli
One alternative to securing the majestic artistry of Suarez is to pursue the brute force of Napoli powerhouse Gonzalo Higuain. Barcelona have already expressed interest in Messi's fellow countryman, per The Guardian. Now Enrique is ready to sweeten the pot.
According to talkSport.co.uk, Enrique is prepared to offer disappointing midfielder Alex Song to tempt Napoli boss Rafa Benitez:
Enrique is keen on Higuain and Rafa Benitez, who is in the market for a defensive midfielder, will be offered a cash-swap deal with Song going to Italy.
Benitez originally wanted Barcelona's Javier Mascherano, but the ex-Liverpool player is not being made available having just signed a new contract.
Benitez has never been shy about stockpiling deep-lying midfield players. The Spanish coach could be tempted by the challenge of reviving Song's career. The Cameroon man has been dismal for Barca since defecting from Arsenal in 2012.
Certainly, parting with Song to get Higuain would represent excellent business. The former Real Madrid striker offers qualities Barcelona currently don't possess.
He boasts surprising strength, as well as a direct and decisive approach to taking shots on and pouncing on chances. In a team often chided for overplaying, Higuain's scoring instincts could be invaluable, even if he doesn't offer as much in a complementary sense as Suarez.
Juan Cuadrado, Fiorentina
Enrique may not rely on his strikers as much for creativity if he can complete a a deal for stylish Fiorentina winger Juan Cuadrado. The Colombia international's agent is said to be ready to meet with Barcelona to reach an agreement, according to Marca.com: "Having acquired 100% of the Colombian's rights, Fiorentina might consider selling him for €28m."
Frankly, €28 million is a bargain fee for a player as dynamic as Cuadrado. He is a twisting, weaving delight any time he gets the ball and runs at defenders.
But the 26-year-old isn't just a wing-based trickster. He plays with a good physical power and is a creative threat whenever he drifts into central positions.
Cuadrado has the vision to spot runners and angle passes between the lines. Those qualities make him ideal for Bacra's intricate possession style, while the rest of his game can add the athletic edge the club missed last season.
Enrique knows he can't avoid shaking up this squad during the summer. His intent to do so is shown in the calibre of targets he is already pursuing.
Signing Suarez is easily the biggest statement the club's new manager can make this summer. It's a move that would put the pressure back on the Madrid clubs to try and keep pace.
More important, Suarez's tactical impact would restore the potency of Barca's once-feared attacking fluency.
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