Barcelona’s offseason has gotten off on the wrong foot following the announcement that Lionel Messi was not going to return to his former club, instead deciding to opt for a new adventure in MLS with Inter Miami.
However, whether he decided to return or not, Barcelona’s areas of need would not have changed.
Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez appeared on “Universo Valdano” where he answered various questions, including possible reinforcements.
“I need two signings in midfield,” Xavi said. “I lack an interior and with Busquets’ departure, we also need a pivot. This has to be a priority.”
The need to find a suitable replacement for Sergio Busquets has been known since the veteran midfielder announced he was leaving the club at the end of the season. While Alejandro Balde has stepped up to become more than a suitable replacement for the departing Jordi Alba, the same can’t be said for Busquets.
Frenkie de Jong had his best season since arriving at Barcelona and while he can function in the Busquets role, he’s flourished because he’s had Busquets at his side, allowing him to go further up the pitch. Dropping De Jong deeper doesn’t seem like a solution for Xavi at the moment.
Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi and Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich appear to be the chosen ones to replace Busquets. The former has been Xavi’s top priority with the latter only popping up as an option in recent weeks.
However, their signings are going to be complicated.
With Zubimendi, Real Sociedad are not going to accept anything lower than the €60 million release clause. Even if Barcelona weren’t still embroiled in a financial crisis, it would still take convincing Zubimendi to leave. A task made the more difficult with La Real qualifying for the Champions League next season.
Kimmich is in the same boat in that Bayern Munich are unlikely to want to sell despite a change in their leadership. At the same time, with Bayern in a bit of turmoil, it could open the doors should Kimmich make the decision he wants to leave. But it would still come down to negotiation between the two clubs and Bayern are going to want a significant fee as they are in the process of retooling their squad.
Despite LaLiga approving the Catalan side’s viability plan, a significant amount of work needs to be done before Barcelona can sign, let alone register, any potential signing. Players need to be moved on and the wage bill still needs to be trimmed.
The summer transfer window has yet to open but Barcelona are going to find it difficult to make all the signings they want. But Xavi has made it clear. Even if their ability to sign is limited, the priority is a replacement for Busquets and an interior.