The Game Haus

Which Defenders do Barcelona Need to Sell?

After an unsuccessful end to the season, Barcelona finds itself in need of a major squad revamp. The Catalan club has lost the league title for two consecutive years. Even more troubling, they have not lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy since 2015. With only the Copa Del Rey being added to the trophy cabinet these past two seasons, it is more than obvious this team needs more quality.

President Joan Laporta has already added Kun Aguero, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal to Koeman’s arsenal for this upcoming season. However, many would argue that the real challenge is not what comes in, but rather what goes out. With Barcelona’s extremely poor economic condition, the club has already confirmed that in order to buy players this summer, they must sell first. While plenty of players’ futures are still up in the air, some players’ times on the sunny beaches of Barcelona MUST come to an end. With the club in massive need of defensive reinforcements, who needs to go in order to make way for new defensive arrivals?

Out: Neto (GK)

The 31-year-old backup goalkeeper’s time in Barcelona seems to be coming to an end. With the Brazilian not challenging Ter Stegan for a starting spot, it is only smart to sell him. Neto was looking to leave in the January transfer window, however, Ronald Koeman refused as he wanted to have a full-strength squad to end the season. Therefore, Barcelona did not listen to any offers. However, Barcelona is now looking for a buyer for the goalkeeper. With the player unhappy with the minimal amount of game-time he is getting and Barcelona in urgent need of money, Neto should be on his way out this summer.

Replacement: Inaki Pena (Barcelona B)

Pena’s impressive performances with the B-team make him the lead candidate to be Ter Stegan’s backup without the club spending a dime to replace Neto. This is a win-win-win situation for all parties. Neto goes to a club where he features regularly, Barcelona gets money, and Inkai Pena gets promoted to the first team.

Out: Sergi Roberto (Right-Back)

Sergi Roberto’s time at Barcelona seems to be coming to an end. The La Masia product, who has spent his entire career at Barcelona, has only one year remaining on his contract. The player reportedly wanted a multi-year contract extension, but the board was only willing to offer a year-by-year extension. Joan Laporta’s board put a change in policy where players aged 30 and older were not going to be offered multi-year contracts. This came to be as previous board president, Josep Bartomeu, offered long contracts with enormous wages leaving the players with little resale value and putting the club in financial turmoil. While Roberto is 29, Laporta’s policy change still applies.

Contractual differences aside, Roberto has also been injured for a majority of the season and his return was not welcomed warmly by the fans. The Spaniard has put in very poor performances since coming back from injury (and arguably before that as well). All of this leads to the speculation that the player will be sold this summer.

Sergi Roberto, una recuperación muy esperada por Koeman
Sergi Roberto’s recent injury and his dip in form has made his future more “outside than inside” of Barcelona. Image Courtesy of SPORT

Replacement: Emerson Royal

Barcelona has already confirmed the signing of Emerson who joins his parent club after spending the past two seasons on loan at Real Betis. The 22-year-old Brazilian right-back brings pace, power, and experience. While plenty of clubs have their eye on Emerson, Barcelona wants to keep hold of him as he will surely challenge American Sergino Dest for a starting spot.

Out: Clement Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti (Center-back)

The French duo’s recent performances have lead Barcelona fans to plea for more defensive signings. Clement Lenglet, who joined the club in the summer of 2018, has apparently been put on the transfer list. If you watch Barcelona regularly, this will come to you as no surprise. According to WhoScored, Clement Lenglet is the only player in Europe’s top five leagues to have scored an own goal, been sent off, commit an error leading to an opposition goal, and concede a penalty this season. His error-prone performances have cost Barcelona in the league and the Champions League. A player that was once described as an “untouchable” in the dressing room, alongside Lionel Messi and Frenkie De Jong, now finds himself on the chopping block.

While Clement Lenglet’s performances have been poor and should ideally be sold, the Frenchman could just be dropped to the bench becoming a rotation player. However, the same does not apply to fellow countryman Samuel Umtiti. Umtiti, who was once labeled as the next-coming of Barcelona legend Puyol, now finds himself without any interest from any team. The World Cup winner has struggled with a knee injury since 2018, which has kept him on the sidelines for almost two years. When Umtiti is not on the sidelines he is on the bench as he does not have the trust of manager Ronald Koeman (and rightfully so). The Frenchman has made errors in the little minutes he has featured this season. However, getting him off the wage book will prove to be difficult. The player has an annual salary of 12 million euros. No team would ever offer anywhere near that. While Barcelona may not get a big transfer fee for him, just getting him off their wage book would do the club wonders.

The 'Clásico', a key goal for Umtiti and Lenglet
The futures of Umtiti (left) and Lenglet’s (right) are in serious doubt as the club is listening to offers for the French center-back duo. Image Courtesy of BeSoccer

Replacement: Eric Garcia

Barcelona has confirmed the arrival of former La Masia product, Eric Garcia, from Manchester City on a free transfer. The young Spanish international will look to reinforce the backline alongside academy products Ronald Araujo and Oscar Mingueza, who have stepped up and put in great performances this season. However, the club is also monitoring a more experienced and proven center back with the likes of De Ligt, Lisandro Martinez, Ayermic Laporte, and Pau Torres being among the club’s desired targets.

Out: Junior Firpo (Left-back)

Possibly the one player who is drawing interest from numerous clubs is left-back Junior Firpo. Ever since arriving from Real Betis in the summer of 2019, the Spaniard has failed to find his feet and challenge Jordi Alba for the left-back position. Similar to Neto, the player is keen on leaving in order to feature more regularly with West Ham, Southampton, and AC Milan looking to sign wing-back.

Replacement: None at the club

Unlike Neto and Sergi Roberto, the club does not have a replacement should Firpo leave Barcelona. After not renewing Juan Miranda’s contract, the club will have to search the transfer market and generate funds to buy a left-back who will challenge Jordi Alba. Valencia’s Jose Gaya and PSV’s Owen Wijnal have been reported to interest the Catalan club.

Chelsea identify Valencia star Jose Gaya as first signing they will make when transfer ban ends
Jose Gaya is an option Barcelona likes if they can sell Junior Firpo. Image Coursey of talkSPORT

Joan Laporta has a challenging summer ahead of him. However, if the club president is able to sell unneeded players, lower the wage bill, and add a couple of quality signings (especially in the defense), then Barcelona will be well set for the upcoming season.

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