Barcelona Must Sign 4 Players in Summer to Make Renewed Treble Push Next Season

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2016

Barcelona's coach Luis Enrique gestures from the sidelines during the 'Clasico' Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on April 2, 2016. / AFP / PAU BARRENA        (Photo credit should read PAU BARRENA/AFP/Getty Images)
PAU BARRENA/Getty Images

Too much is never enough, or so they say. That's perhaps the case for Barcelona of late, as inquisitions and blame games started up over the last month or so as they failed to retain the UEFA Champions League and suffered a four-game winless run in La Liga that has taken the title challenge to the wire.

Where did it go wrong for Barca? Well, it's a question of perspective given the high probability they will ensure domestic dominance by ending the season with a double, winning La Liga and the Copa del Rey.

Two trophies or not (plus the UEFA Super Cup and not to mention the FIFA Club World Cup), the demands will be even higher to go one better next season and emerge triumphant in Europe once more, with the ever-present hope of claiming a sextuple in seasons to come.

This Barcelona team is among the finest ever assembled, but in 2016, it has been the first XI relied upon rather than an entire squad. If they want to renew a challenge on three significant fronts next term and take back the treble they won last year, the Catalans need investment to bring in new faces in four key positions over the summer.


It is, of course, something of a guessing game at this point—in the modern world of huge transfer deals and limited top-tier talent, an unexpected departure is always possible. Even so, it's a fairly safe bet that Barcelona will keep a number in place: the front three, the Spanish contingent of Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba and a number of others.

Meanwhile, it's equally probable there will be certain departures.

Forwards Munir el Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez have failed to impress enough, and the likes of Adriano, Thomas Vermaelen and Marc Bartra have all broken barely 1,000 minutes of game time this season.

There might also be a big-name casualty. The Daily Mirror reported in March the team is hoping to secure a sponsorship deal that would bring in upward of £50 million per season, but there are issues to consider in balancing the books, as they cannot spend big on a player without increased income.

Barca missed out on signing Nolito from Celta Vigo for that precise reason in January, per Sport.

Key Position: 4th Forward

Before any other areas of the team are considered, it's imperative Barcelona sort out a supplementary forward to provide support for Luis Enrique's attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

No player coming into the club should delude themselves into thinking they'll fight for a place—those three will be the starters, with any new signing filling in according to rotation, injury or other absence. There will be plenty of time on the pitch, of course, with Barca playing upward of 55 games a season, but there is more criteria to meet beyond simply being happy on the bench with frequency.

Sevilla's Kevin Gameiro celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Europa League semi-final football match FC Shakhtar Donetsk vs Sevilla FC at the Arena Lviv stadium in Lviv on April 28, 2016. / AFP / GENYA SAVILOV        (Photo credit should read GENYA SA

The new man needs to be able to play across the front line, centrally and from the flanks, and perhaps most difficult of all, they must be capable of hitting the back of the net.

Some linked players would provide the latter, Kevin Gameiro most notably, but at his age (29) and likely price tag, is he a reasonable target? The Daily Mirror also mentioned Ayoze Perez, but as he's not a regular starter for relegated Newcastle United, he would hardly be an inspiring addition to the Spanish titleholders' squad.

It's a delicate balancing act, but one that may be made slightly easier to deal with if Barcelona retain, instead of buying back and selling on for profit, Denis Suarez. The Villarreal man will rejoin the Camp Nou outfit in the summer for just over €3 million, reported Lluis Miguelsanz of Sport, but if they receive a big-money bid, there's every chance he would move straight on again.

GK Question

One big-name departure looks set to be Marc-Andre ter Stegen, frustrated at two years without getting a regular run of league games—although he has won several pieces of silverware as the cup goalkeeper.

Even so, Claudio Bravo's 1,000 minutes more of action could have the German ready to move on, with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool linked, such as by Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph. It hasn't been considered as a possibility that Bravo might leave instead, with Barcelona retaining the 24-year-old shot-stopper. In any case, it's probable Barcelona find themselves one name short.

Do they revert to having a first-choice No. 1 and simply bring in a back-up, someone to compete with Jordi Masip but not to push for continuous game time? It would be cheaper and easier to find a suitable candidate, but perhaps part of Barcelona's success in Europe last season was having a focused goalkeeper looking to prove himself every time he took to the field.

BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 6: (l-r) Claudi Bravo, Jordi Masip and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen of FC Barcelona pose with the trophy following the UEFA Champions League Final match between Juventus and FC Barcelona at the Olympiastadion on June 6, 2015 in Berlin, Ger
Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

Attracting another top-class 'keeper could help push for honours on multiple fronts, but how long before the remaining goalkeeper—if it is Bravo, for example—gets frustrated that he isn't allowed to play a part in Europe?

No Defence

Of equal importance to signing a fourth forward is the need to sign a new centre-back.

Rumours, discussions and suggestions of their identity will have gone on for the best part of two years, but the simple fact is Barca have two first-choice central defenders, Pique and Javier Mascherano, and three who either haven't been trusted or proven consistent enough.

Jeremy Mathieu made a strong start to his career at the Camp Nou in 2014 but has gone off the rails entirely. His versatility may ensure he remains in place for another season, covering left-back as well as the centre, but the Frenchman doesn't offer enough of a guarantee of good performances to command a regular starting spot. Vermaelen and Bartra, meanwhile, already look to have more than one foot out the exit door, per Miguelsanz of Sport.

Whether it is simply a centre-back who arrives or a more versatile option is up for debate. Dani Alves, Douglas or Adriano could all depart and cover at full-back is more than possible.

Either way, one new name for the defence is a must, and that must be a player who can help the back four play at the highest possible level.


Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic have had two years as the midfield supply line, supported by the imperious Sergio Busquets. As the 32-year-old Iniesta advances in years and is regularly subbed off around the 70-minute mark, Barcelona have looked to find an alternative option to both start and impact off the bench.

Arda Turan hasn't lived up to expectations, but the club will hope Rafinha's return from a long-term injury will mean much greater depth and ability from this area next season, especially on an offensive level to support the front line.

Barcelona's Brazilian midfielder Rafinha celebrates a goal during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs RCD Espanyol at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on May 8, 2016. / AFP / LLUIS GENE        (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty
LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

There may be no need to bulk up the middle, with Alen Halilovic potentially returning from his loan with Sporting Gijon, Sergi Roberto making great strides this year and around four Barca B players making intermittent appearances throughout the season.

Even without an addition in the centre of the park, Barcelona are looking at a significant outlay over the summer and need to make the right choices, particularly at either end of the team, if they are to go full throttle for another treble success.

The competition will be fiercer than ever—but the expectation even more so.