Analysis: Joshua Kimmich comments leave Barcelona in tricky position

Barcelona will struggle to meet their number one priority this summer, with the options less than convincing for the Blaugrana.

The departure of Sergio Busquets, and 15 years of experience at the heart of operations in midfield, means they are looking at finding a pivot in the market.

Manager Xavi Hernandez has declared publicly on several occasions that it must be their number one target for the summer, and that the player in question must be of a ‘high, high quality.’

Yet their options currently thought to be on the table are falling by the wayside. Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Zubimendi has been signalled as the top target to do so. Even if they were able to come up with the €60m specified in his contract to open talks with him though, on several occasions the idea of Zubimendi departing has been shut down.

Another of their options has also had to be crossed out by the board. German playmaker Joshua Kimmich was linked with the position over the last month, as a potential change of scenery for the player.

Yet in recent statements made to BILD, Kimmich confirmed that he had two years left on his deal, and that the club had ‘big plans’, as per Fabrizio Romano.

That would appear to rule out their second option, which would likely have been Kimmich. Recent reports mention a shortlist of six players for the position, with Zubimendi and Kimmich already ruled out.

The other options mentioned are Arthur Vermeeren, Guido Rodriguez, Sofyan Amrabat and Oriol Romeu. Ruben Neves is not considered an alternative for the deepest position in midfield.

Vermeeren is much too young and inexperienced to be called a ‘high, high level’ replacement, no matter how talented he is. Real Betis’ midfielder Guido Rodriguez has been on their radar too, but the Argentine equally can be described as solid, rather than necessarily a long-term option at the top of the game. His distribution is also drastically different.

Fiorentina and Morocco midfielder Amrabat has become a popular option following his heroics at the World Cup. Even if he could reproduce that form regularly, his ability to play out under pressure is somewhat limited compared to Busquets, which was the main function of his role.

The final option, Romeu of Girona, is maybe the player that most looks similar to Busquets stylistically. As a youngster he was profiled for the job, and has plenty of talent bringing the ball out, as well as breaking up attacks.

The 31-year-old could be a nice solution for the coming two years or so, but it is also true that Romeu has not been at the top level of the game for some time. Rarely starting Champions League matches in the position, Romeu would perhaps be an underwhelming name to bring in.

At any rate, all of the options mentioned look like relatively weak efforts to replace Busquets in the manner Xavi has demanded. None of them fit the profile perfectly, and the two that resemble Busquets most stylistically, Vermeeren and Romeu, are at the wrong ends of their careers for the role. Unless Barcelona add to their shortlist, the loss of Kimmich from it looks to be the end of Xavi’s desires for the pivot he wants.

Tags Barcelona Bayern Munich Joshua Kimmich Martin Zubimendi
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