Analysing the Big Barcelona Transfer Rumours Being Mooted for 2020

Dean Jones@DeanJonesBRFootball Insider at Bleacher ReportApril 11, 2020

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 24: (L-R) Ousmane Dembele of FC Barcelona, Antoine Griezmann of FC Barcelona celebrates the victory  during the La Liga Santander  match between FC Barcelona v Villarreal at the Camp Nou on September 24, 2019 in Barcelona Spain (Photo by Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

With no football being played to divert the attention, Barcelona are suddenly being exposed as a club in crisis.

There have been issues behind the scenes all season, the latest of which came on Friday when six directors resigned. One of them, Emili Rousaud, even told RAC1 (h/t Marca): "I think someone has had their hand in the till."

Such a comment will not sit well with president Josep Maria Bartomeu, but he is now under mounting pressure to bring forward club elections.

It's all very tense, and there are serious worries about how issues in the background will begin to impact the team on the pitch.

A month without fixtures is beginning to affect how they plan financially, sources in Spain told Bleacher Report. Players have agreed to cut their wages by 70 per cent, and the club also applied for an ERTE (Temporary Reduction of Employment Action) in order to pay other club staff.

A report from The Athletic's Dermot Corrigan on April 6 also said, "Barca's 2019-20 budget needs £109 million income from player trading to balance the books." 

Yet somehow they continue to be linked with signing the likes of Neymar and Lautaro Martinez—so how does this all add up?

Here, we take a look at the most prominent rumours for players moving both in and out of the club this year and how they might pan out.

     

In

Neymar

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 11: (FREE FOR EDITORIAL USE) In this handout image provided by UEFA, Neymar of Paris Saint-Germain celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Paris Saint-Germa
UEFA - Handout/Getty Images

In a dream world, Barcelona bring Neymar back to the club as soon as possible—we already saw them attempt it last summer.

He's probably going to remain out of reach this time around, too.

Neymar is happier now in Paris than he was a year ago, and the fact that Paris Saint-Germain are into the quarter-finals of the Champions League shows they are closer to matching his ambition.

The other major factor in PSG's favour is that they believe no club in the world has the power to sign him at the end of this season because of the economic circumstances now arising.

La Liga is expected to be hit hard by the impact of the coronavirus, and Neymar's wages—which equate to more than $3 million a year—is a problem on top of any transfer fee, which would be upwards of €160 million (approx $175 million), B/R sources suggest. 

Barca would have to sell at least two big-money players to even consider signing Neymar.

       

Lautaro Martinez

As one of the key performers for Inter Milan in Serie A this season, Martinez has emerged as a target for Barca.

His arrival is more realistic than that of Neymar, particularly as he has a €111 million release clause that can be triggered this summer. Martinez is currently weighing up his options before committing any further to his current employers. No new negotiations have taken place over an improved deal with Inter. 

Aged 22, he has the potential to help Barcelona transition away from star striker Luis Suarez, and he would be linking up with fellow Argentina international Messi—which is an obvious lure. Intermediaries have already touched base to make him aware that formal contact could be on the way soon, and if he leaves Inter, this is where he is most likely to land. 

"This deal can become possible," one Spanish source confidently told B/R.   

      

Kai Havertz

Barca have a long-standing interest in Bayer Leverkusen's Havertz, who is just 20 years old. He has an exciting style of play that would suit them, with his bursts from midfield catching the eye. 

He's been one of the most coveted young players in Europe over the past year, and Barca have remained one of the few clubs genuinely in with a chance of getting him.

They have maintained constant relations with his representatives, yet there is a growing feeling among  Bundesliga insiders that we will stay in Germany.

There is a feeling it might be too soon in his career to move to a new country and also break through at a major club, so B/R sources believe Bayern Munich is his most likely landing spot.

By staying in Germany, he can take a small upwards step, prove himself at the next tier, then look for the major transfer outside of the country in a couple of years.

If Barca can raise the funds, they will make an offer for Havertz, though—so it will be interesting to see how tempting that becomes when actually faced with the opportunity. 

     

Out

Ousmane Dembele

BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 27: Ousmane Dembele of FC Barcelona injured during the UEFA Champions League group F match between FC Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund at Camp Nou on November 27, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Since joining from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, Dembele has missed 80 matches through injury, with many of those issues relating to his hamstring—a big concern for a young player whose style of play depends heavily on pace and trickery. 

Sources in Spain have acknowledged the chances of Barca ever recouping the €105 million they initially splashed out on him are now slim. While his talent is not in question, clubs will be concerned about how long he can remain fit.

Dembele is contracted to Barca until 2022, and the feeling among sources is that the club are going to give him time to focus fully on his rehabilitation, and only once he has returned to the field again will they begin to think about his future.

There is a sense the player deserves that respect and time. Ideally, Barcelona do not even want to sell him at all.

But this one is going to have to be revisited in the new year before we have a better idea of how the situation pans out.

        

Philippe Coutinho

The transfer from Liverpool has not worked for Coutinho, and now the Spanish club are looking at ways to keep him off their wage bill. They simply need to move on from each other.

Coutinho is currently on loan at Bayern Munich, who have no intention to sign him on a permanent basis.

But the player himself has been refusing to think too far into the future while there is uncertainty around how the COVID-19 pandemic will influence major transfers over the coming year.

One source told B/R he is keen on the idea of returning to the Premier League, and he still holds a good reputation in English football. However, his £240,000-a-week wage from Barca would be a problem for most clubs in the division.

The amount, which equates to around $300,000, would make him the highest earner at most clubs.

Chelsea and Arsenal are being strongly linked. Chelsea would only be interested in a loan deal, and even then they have reservations about how he would fit into their overall structure. 

Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and Everton have an interest, but it would depend on the finances. One source suggested Barca will struggle to recoup much more than half the £142 million they paid for him two years ago in this current climate. He needs to go, though, so they are going to have to work hard to find him the ideal transfer.

       

Antoine Griezmann

Barcelona needed a huge loan to complete Griezmann's transfer from Atletico Madrid and, in hindsight, should not have bothered.

He's struggled to find his rhythm in attack with Messi and Luis Suarez, and in March, there had been suggestions from insiders around the club that he would be sold if they received a suitable offer.

Those thoughts were before the coronavirus pandemic kicked in, though. While some involved at the top level would still sell, there is now only a slim chance of being able to offload Griezmann. Of the clubs who could realistically afford him, Manchester United would normally have an interest but are focusing on other deals.

So the only other option might be to use him as a makeweight to bring back Neymar from PSG. It has been considered, but it is believed Griezmann doesn't want to give up on Barca just yet, so he would not be keen on moving to Ligue 1. 

The club are most likely to keep Griezmann for now, but we should expect them to evaluate his situation again in 2021.  

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