Barcelona’s financial deadweight continues to hinder the club as they look to return to former glory on the pitch. It has led to some players being kept longer than they maybe otherwise would have, and others that have been signed that otherwise would not have been. Now, they may find themselves short of a signing.
Last summer the Blaugrana sold €667m in assets to allow them a summer of recruitment, but as President Joan Laporta has admitted, they will subject ton stricter rules from La Liga next summer. As it stands, La Liga will only allow them to use 25% of the money they have from savings or sales on player recruitment, otherwise known as the 1:4 rule.
It means that any major operations are off the table for Barcelona. As per Todofichajes, legendary pivot Sergio Busquets will leave the club at the end of his contract to join Inter Miami in Major League Soccer. Due to their financial restrictions, any attempt at bringing in a replacement, Jorginho, Ngolo Kante or Martin Zubimendi, will be fruitless.
That would Xavi Hernandez in something of a hole next season, as he tries to find a way to fill the gap. Of their current midfielders, Pedri, Gavi and Pablo Torre are destined to play further forward.
Many assumed that Frenkie de Jong would eventually move backwards into the pivot role. However Xavi Hernandez consistently told the media that de Jong is better further forward in an ‘interior’ role, and that is where he intends to use him.
De Jong had struggled in his previous performances in the pivot role, but in the final weeks before the World Cup break, looked accomplished in some crucial situations.
Xavi must also consider that the two positions further forward, have three aspiring midfielders competing for those positions in Pedri, Gavi and de Jong. While Gavi is still only 18 and may accept a reduced role for parts of the season currently, he is likely to demand more football if his performances continue to be of the top level.
It may be that Xavi is able to stave off that decision on which two to make his starters for the biggest matches for two more seasons, but it is a tricky tightrope to walk.
The temptation will be to move de Jong into that pivot role and keep all three happy next season. Alternatively, Franck Kessie could be tested in that role. He has rarely operated as a single pivot and there are doubts about his ability to progress the ball under pressure, perhaps the quality the role most requires.
With none of the players in the Barcelona Atletic side showing sufficient potential to be fast-tracked yet, the only other option amongst the Barcelona ranks would be Nico Gonzalez. The Galician midfielder is on loan at Valencia and has been putting in mixed performances. Currently, it would be a surprise if Xavi trusted him with that role as a starter.
Alternatively, Barcelona could try to move de Jong onwards again. Marked out as their most saleable asset, a large fee may enable Barcelona to enter the market again and pursue one of their chosen replacements.
If Busquets does leave the club, then Xavi’s choice will likely involve working out which of the evils is the least harmful. Six months is plenty of time in football though too, and necessity is the mother of all invention.