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a successful winter transfer window… but which also raises questions

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Dani Alves, Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. We will have to wait for the next few months to see if the four players mentioned will manage to be useful for Xavi Hernandez, but on paper, Barça have achieved a fairly interesting transfer window. Especially in the conditions that we know, namely a winter market not conducive to large transfers, and an extremely complicated financial situation, with La Liga which frames the slightest euro spent by Barça. A relatively low salary cap – the time the club gets back on track from a financial point of view – and which did not bode well in the last days of December.

But the hard work of Joan Laporta and Mateu Alemany, the director of the club’s football section, paid off. With financial engineering, well helped by the players who arrived who made big sacrifices in terms of salary to join Barça, the two thinking heads of FC Barcelona were able to offer some gifts to Xavi. It is no coincidence that we saw the Barcelona boss let his joy escape on Monday evening, after completing the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, ending a month of puzzles of all kinds and jumping obstacles huge. Especially since next summer, the La Liga FPF rule which prevents the club from spending more than a quarter of the income it generates on the transfer window will jump, and the Laporta-Alemany duo will therefore have more room. of maneuver.

Coherent profiles?

However, we can still ask some questions about the players recruited. Not necessarily in terms of their quality, but their profile. If Ferran Torres seems to fit perfectly into the Barcelona game philosophy, as he proves practically in every match with Luis Enrique’s Roja, Adama Traoré raises some doubts. It’s true that Barca needed an unbalancing player up front – Xavi insisted on it – but many observers find it hard to see him adapting to this team. And above all, on the Wolves side, he had been relegated to the bench by a certain … Francisco Trincão, whom Barça had pushed out because he was considered undesirable. A little paradoxical, some will say, even if they are different profiles and that of the Spaniard does indeed seem more useful and necessary than that of the Portuguese at the present time.

Another point which may surprise, the arrival of Aubameyang. Here too, the profile can challenge, since this is not what Xavi seemed to be looking for at the start. According to the Spanish media, the Barcelona coach wanted a striker capable of picking up, combining and participating in the game. Hence the strong interest in Alvaro Morata, who was presented as the tactician’s priority. More than a scorer, the former midfielder wanted a fulcrum in front, which the Juve player does well in selection, with Ferran Torres and Fati precisely. It is clear that the Gabonese has a completely different style, more based on depth or the search for good positioning in the last meters. “Aubameyang kills you with space in front of him, but Barça need players who are comfortable in small spaces”he had thus explained in 2020, advising against his arrival when Barça was interested in the former ASSE.

There are always gaps

We can also evoke a certain traffic jam in attack now, whereas on the contrary, certain positions seem to be rather sparse, whether qualitatively or quantitatively. At the start of the transfer window, the two full-back positions thus gave the impression of being the priority. In the aftermath of the transfer window, it is clear that Jordi Alba, already not really brilliant in recent weeks, has no replacement or credible alternative, Alejandro Baldé not entering into the coach’s plans. Likewise on the right, where there are certainly more players, but where Dani Alves is ultimately the only player who convinces his former teammate, Mingueza and Dest not having convinced their coach.

Similarly, in a lesser register, certain positions such as that of midfielder in front of the defense, or even the central hinge, could perhaps have required one or two arrivals. As said above, the winter context and the club’s financial situation do not necessarily lend themselves to this, but the level of Sergio Busquets’ performance and the recurring shortcomings in defense may still be handicapping in the second half of the season, perhaps. much more than the offensive sector which was not necessarily the main problem of the team.

Mismanaged files

If the arrivals were fairly well negotiated, the same cannot be said for the departures. FC Barcelona had a list of undesirables as long as your arm, and could only part with two, Philippe Coutinho, who left on loan at Aston Villa, and Yusuf Demir, sent back to Vienna. And the first player Joan Laporta intended to part with was Ousmane Dembélé. No agreement could be reached, neither for an extension, nor for a departure this winter. Not necessarily the fault of the Barcelona management, some will say, but it is clear that the communication of the Catalan boss – who has publicly affirmed that he thought Dembélé better than Mbappé – did not help win this showdown.

That’s not all, since many players who could have been sold to make a little room did not find takers. Neto, Clément Lenglet, Riqui Puig, Alejandro Baldé, Oscar Mingueza, the list is quite long. The Samuel Umtiti case, extended to save some money, can also be pointed out, even if no one could foresee (although) the three-month injury of the French defender. Several sites which are therefore simply moved to in six months, where the Barcelonans should however have more purchasing power and try to seize players of the caliber of Erling Haaland. Now that Joan Laporta and Mateu Alemany have returned with a fairly good mention, it’s up to Xavi to do the same on the pitch.

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