Barcelona have had a good season up until now. Despite their failings in the Champions League, they lead La Liga by three points and have already won the Spanish Super Cup.
Summer signings have come in and impressed. Robert Lewandowski has been prolific since his move from Bayern Munich, while defensive recruits Andreas Christensen and Jules Kounde has been solid in defence.
With Barca still in with a chance of winning three competitions this season (La Liga, Copa del Rey, Europa League), it is important that the club has a good January transfer window. However, the business that they can do is limited, with Financial Fair Play restrictions limiting the incoming activity that Barca can have.
There is a little bit of leeway now, following the sale of Memphis Depay to Atletico Madrid. The Dutchman has left for a reported €4m, although Barca are unlikely to be able to spend that much. That sale means that there is a small space in the finances where a signing can be made, which is what Xavi would like to do. The question is, who do they bring in?
The obvious department to look at is in the forward line. Depay was an option for Xavi in attack, and was the only natural centre forward in the squad besides Lewandowski. Despite that, he made just four appearances across all competitions this season, with Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres preferred to Depay at times.
In terms of a Depay replacement in attack, it is not particularly necessary for Barcelona, which is perhaps why there are rumours of a move for Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic. The Croatian international could be a replacement for club captain Sergio Busquets, who is likely to leave at the end of his contract in the summer.
Barcelona’s number one signing priority seems to be a pivot. With Busquets likely to relinquish the role that he has occupied for much of the last 14 years since his debut, the club want to ensure that a top level replacement is secured. Brozovic can operate in that role, and could be a relatively low cost signing, if Inter allow him to go. For this season, he isn’t essential, with the likes of Frenkie De Jong and Franck Kessie able to cover in the position.
Barcelona’s biggest issue in their squad is at right back. With only Sergi Roberto and Hector Bellerin as naturals in the position, it has meant that the likes of Jules Kounde and Ronald Araujo have filled in at times, although both prefer to play in central defence.
A top quality addition will be essential, but with such slim margins for finances this month, it’s unlikely that one will be available. A cheaper alternative could be courted, but the options at the club should be able to make do for the remainder of this season, especially when you consider that the defence has conceded just six goals in 16 La Liga matches.
Barcelona will eventually get out of their financial shackles, but it will take time and smart decision making to do so. In terms of incomings in January, they aren’t essential, and funds could be used towards tying down some of the best talent at the club, such as Alejandro Balde and Ronaldo Araujo. The current squad has the quality to compete on all fronts, and with the potential addition of exciting young talents such as Angel Alarcon, it would allow for no spending to be done this month.
Barcelona have one of the best youth academies in the world. If they aren’t used when required, then what is the point of having some many talented players?