And 10 Players Barcelona May Sign In The Summer Transfer Window
When Philippe Coutinho arrived at Barcelona last year, it was not only the astronomical price. The 27-year-old’s form for Liverpool also raised hopes that he hit the ground running at the Camp Nou.
Unfortunately for both sides, Coutinho has not been able to conjure the shape which made him a fan favorite at Anfield. Granted, the animosity is shown by some Coutinho’s premature exit from the club.
Of all the Barcelona attackers that started over 20 games for the club last season, Coutinho required more minutes (404) than anybody else. Ousmane Dembele went injured, the Brazilian was given a long run-in in the side by the manager.
Furthermore, Coutinho went 9 games without scoring a goal. Carroll Alena (0.12) and Gerard Pique (0.11).
Unlike Coutinho – who arrived at the club amidst huge expectations – the signing of the veteran Belgian defender was a low-key affair. He was snapped up by the Spanish giants for a transfer fee in the region of £15m on a five-year contract in 2014.
Before his move to Spain, the 33-year-old was plying his trade with Arsenal in the Premier League. His career in North London was a successful one as Vermaelen featured in the heart of the Gunners’ defense for more than 150 times during his five-year stay at the club to an end at the Camp Nou.
The main reason why Arsenal decided to let the player leave back then – which is ironically the same reason why Barcelona might decide against extending his contract this year – has to do with the Belgian’s injury troubles.
So grave his injury troubles have become of late that Vermaelen was restricted to making just 12 appearances for the Catalans in the whole of 2018/19 season. Add to the equation that Barca now have the likes of Pique, Lenglet, and Umtiti shoring their back line, and the Belgian’s time is set to come to an end at the Camp Nou.
After being frustrated in their attempts to lure PSG and Brazil defender Marquinhos to the club, the Barcelona hierarchy decided to sign the then 22-year-old Umtiti from French club Lyon in 2016. The Spanish side had to see off the likes of Manchester United to bring the defender to the club.
Even back then, Umtiti enjoyed a stellar reputation in France after having a series of brilliant seasons in Ligue 1. His performances earned the Frenchman a place in France’s Euro 2016 squad and he was also a part of the French side which won the World Cup in 2018.
Unluckily, while he has been performing brilliantly for his national team, Umtiti hasn’t been a continuous presence in Barcelona’s back four. Repeated injuries have robbed him of precious game time as the 25-year-old managed to play a paltry 1189 minutes in LA LIGA last season.
Due to his visibly slowing pace, the 25-year-old was culpable for making 4 defensive errors that led to goals last season. Also, with Manchester United lurking in the shadows to sign the player which they missed out on in 2016, Barcelona might do well to cash in on Umtiti this summer.
Rafinha is one of the few players in the current Barcelona squad that came up through the club’s world-famous academy system. He signed his first contract with the club in 2006 as a 13-year-old and went through the ranks of Barcelona B before making his debut for the senior team in 2011.
Although he showed great promise in his first two years at the senior level, lack of game time combined with competition for places forced Barcelona to loan out the 26-year-old to Celta Vigo in 2013. However, despite the loan spell being highly successful, the player has been unable to make his mark.
In addition to the competition for places – as the likes of Arturo Vidal, Sergi Roberto, and Rakitic play in the same position as Rafinha – it is the poor injury record of the Spaniard which might force Barcelona to cut him off their wage bill next season.
For instance, when it comes to playing time, an early-season injury restricted the 25-year-old to just 223 minutes on the pitch. Throw into the mix the fact that Rafinha managed neither a goal nor an assist last season, and it is easy to see why some people feel that his time at the club might soon come to an end.
Every once in a while, a club ends up signing a player which leaves its fans scratching their heads. Unable to fathom the reason behind the signing, fans have no choice but to rally behind the new face in a hope that he would prove their fears wrong and come good.
Unfortunately for the Barcelona fans, Kevin Prince Boateng is one of those players whose signing made as little sense in January 2019 when Barcelona snapped him up on a six-month loan deal as it makes now as his contract with Barcelona is nearing expiry would move back to Italy in the summer.
Since 2016, the ex-Ghana international had played for five different clubs before Barcelona came knocking at his door. As they found out, the reason behind Boateng switching clubs too often lay in the fact that his best days are now well-past him.
So poor was his form at Barcelona that even Ernesto Valverde – who was rumored to be one of the biggest backers of Boateng – was unable to grant the 32-year-old much game time last season. As a result, after playing only 4 games for Barcelona in a six-month loan spell, Boateng would move back to Italy in the summer.