Barcelona will be operating on a limited budget next summer as they deal with the consequences of poor finances and heavy spending last summer. It means the Blaugrana will be almost exclusively limited to free transfers or seriously cut-price deals.
It is not yet clear whether the Blaugrana are intending on major sales in order to give them flexibility. Even without bringing in any players, Director of Football Mateu Alemany still has to work hard in order to ensure they can register all of their new contracts.
Ronald Araujo and Gavi signed new deals in recent months, but neither have been registered as first-team players yet, as the club are not sure if they have sufficient space in their salary limit to do so. In addition, renewals are being discussed for Alejandro Balde, Marcos Alonso and Sergi Roberto.
Following the news from Sport that Alemany already has three signings on the verge of agreement, it is worth wondering whether that business is sufficient to see them through next season. It seems likely that if those signings do go through, there will be little more business.
According to their information, terms have been agreed with Athletic Club central defender Inigo Martinez and Chelsea midfielder Ngolo Kante. Meanwhile Borussia Dortmund’s Youssoufa Moukoko is close to being done. All three are out of contract in the summer, and while minds and demands can still change over the next six months, they appear to be the three signings Barcelona are more likely to make.
In the case of Moukoko, he would likely replace the impact of Memphis Depay, who is out of contract next summer too. The Dortmund youngster has significant potential, can play on the left or through the middle of a front three. He covers similar positions to the Dutchman, but obviously brings pace, movement and a hunger that Memphis perhaps does not.
In the case of Ngolo Kante, it seems likely that he would be a replacement for Sergio Busquets in the holding role. Xavi Hernandez likes his ‘interiors’ to be technically gifted beyond what Kante can offer. Although if Busquets does decide to stay, Kante’s signing would arguably become redundant. Unless either Busquets or Kante were willing to accept a smaller role, it would make no sense. The two are also vastly different players, meaning switching to Kante or retaining Busquets would dramatically change the configuration of the midfield.
Martinez is a solid and fierce central defender at his peak. The Athletic stalwart will be 32 next summer and adds experience to a backline that has Andreas Christensen as its elder statesman at 26. Barcelona already have four central defenders and given Martinez’s ball-playing abilities, it might make one of Christensen or Eric Garcia feel redundant.
Of course, the one position where Barcelona desperately need reinforcements is at right-back. Whether the Blaugrana intend on making those three signings and a full-back remains to be seen.
However given the limited resources, Kante and Martinez would be good if not essential signings for the Blaugrana, depending on how things work out. All in all, each of those players would probably bring something different to Xavi’s squad, but might not address Barcelona’s most pressing needs.