Given Barcelona currently face a two transfer window embargo on signing players, as per The Guardian, it is no surprise that the current focus of transfer news should be on potential departures from Camp Nou in the months ahead.
However, while the Catalan club are free to part with players over the next year until their ban should expire, they would be left in a tricky situation where they would be unable to replace any such departures until January 2016 at the earliest.
Great consideration, therefore, must be afforded to any possible sale in the intervening period.
Latest speculation on Sunday regards both full-back positions, with the Daily Star's John Toner citing reports that both Manchester sides—City and United—are chasing the signature of left-back Jordi Alba in January.
The Mirror's Dave Kidd, meanwhile, cites United as favourites to sign Barcelona's Dani Alves when his contract expires at the end of the season. Barcelona, though, should be doing their utmost to retain both players.
Thankfully for fans of the club, The Daily Mail's Simon Jones offers more optimistic news that the Brazilian is set to be offered a new deal to remain in Catalunya. Spanish football expert Guillem Balague offered a similar view on Twitter:
Guillem Balague @GuillemBalague
Dani Alves will continue at FC Barcelona for at least another season (till 2016 at least). The club will confirm a new contract soon2014-10-4 11:20:23
Given that 23-year-old Martin Montoya has been trusted to appear just once in the league this year and recent Brazilian arrival Douglas was not highly regarded in his homeland, it would make little sense to part with a player still just 31 years of age.
Barcelona are a team determined to fight for both domestic and European trophies, as indicated by their high-value signings of Neymar and Luis Suarez over the past few transfer windows. Such ambitions are not achieved by "making do" with players who are not up to the task at hand.
While there can be no doubt that Alves does not have quite the same influence these days as in his prime under Pep Guardiola, he remains a formidable attacking threat and an experienced defender. Whilst unable to spend on a replacement, it would be a major mistake to allow his contract to run down this season without making real attempts to at least extend by one more year.
As for Alba, it is surely inconceivable that he should be allowed to depart at this early stage of his career given the club's current circumstances.
Of the alternatives for the left-back berth, both Jeremy Mathieu and Thomas Vermaelen are needed as options in the centre of defence, while 29-year-old Brazilian Adriano has never been seen as more than a versatile squad option.
There will be those who advocate the promotion of highly-rated 19-year-old Alex Grimaldo from the B-side, but it would be a massive show of faith to promote the youngster as an Alba replacement at this point in his career. His time will surely come, but patience is required.
Tré Atkinson @TreAtkinson
A lot of people have asked me if Alex Grimaldo is the real deal. Yes, yes he is. He can be much better than Jordi Alba.2014-10-2 12:08:51
Barcelona did well to prepare for their coming difficulties by busying themselves in the market this summer, signing two goalkeepers, an extra right-back, two centre-backs, a new central midfielder and, of course, Luis Suarez. However, that good work would be undone by the loss of either starting full-back with the squad as it is at present.
Luis Enrique's side look good in La Liga, where they currently lie two points clear at the top of the table. However, to achieve success in the Champions League requires solidity in all departments and Barca are already fully aware of the level that competition demands even at the Group Stage following defeat to PSG last week.
Even if they are allowed to leave at some point next season, it is crucial that all Barcelona's key players are retained over the next two windows.
The club's academy can fill squad places, but expecting it to plug gaps in the first-team straight away is an unfair demand on whichever youngster may emerge. Development, even for the best young players, is a process and must always be handled as such.