Memphis Depay’s possible transfer to Atletico Madrid has emerged as one of the biggest stories of the week in Spanish football. Following Joao Felix’s loan move to Premier League giants Chelsea, Atleti are in the market for a replacement, with the Dutchman said to be their top target.
Depay has been a fringe player this season under head coach Xavi Hernandez, but the club are reluctant to lose him unless any deal makes sense financially, and as long as a replacement can be obtained. One name that has emerged for Barca is Atleti’s Yannick Carrasco, in what would be a loan swap deal involving the two Spanish giants, although Tottenham Hotspur also want the Belgian international, as per Todofichajes.
Although Carrasco and Depay are two different types of players, Barcelona are happy for this deal to be done. The Belgian typically operates on the left for Atleti, and would occupy a similar role should he join Barcelona. This could allow Ansu Fati or Ferran Torres to occupy a more central role, which Fati did during the club’s 1-0 victory at the Metropolitano.
The drawback of swapping Depay for Carrasco is that the club loses out of a natural striker in place of another winger. Robert Lewandowski would be the sole “number nine” in the first team should the Dutchman leave, and even if Torres and Fati can operate through the middle, it would mean that Xavi would need to change his tactics to operate with a “false” nine instead.
Carrasco is a good player, although he has struggled this season. His form for Atleti before his move to China was fantastic, but it has been below par since his return to the Spanish capital. Nevertheless, he is a threat going forward, with the ability to provide dangerous service for his teammates.
He is a natural winger, which differs from most of the other options that Barcelona have out wide. Players like Ousmane Dembele, Raphinha and Fati tend to play more inverted, allowing for overlapping runs to be made by the fullbacks.
One aspect of his game that could appeal to Xavi is his defensive work. Having played in Diego Simeone’s system, he has been relied upon to do a lot of work without the ball, and has often been played as a wingback in 3-4-3/3-5-2 system over the years at Atleti. He has the ability to work for the team, which is a manager’s dream.
Overall, it could represent a shrewd piece of business for Barcelona. Carrasco offers something different in attack to what is already at the club, and playing with creative freedom may allow him to rediscover his best form.