This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
The transfer window is now finally behind us and Barcelona’s squad is set for the upcoming season. But upon further investigation, it does seem that there’s still a big issue Ernesto Valverde might face in this new campaign: his midfield.
The Catalans once again spent quite heavily in the most recent summer window.
In total, they spent £229.5m on new faces for the team and earned £140.7m in player sales. And despite the fact that only one midfielder joined the squad from abroad while multiple have left for other teams, Barcelona still have a wealth of options in their midfield.
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As a whole, they have a total of eight midfielders fighting for three spots in the team. This is quite worrisome for Valverde and is likely to stimulate selection headaches.
But the biggest problem, however, might be the fact that the number of midfielders is likely to abruptly halt the development of young La Masia prodigies like Carles Alena and Riqui Puig.
Both of them are still waiting for a real chance this season and the current size of the squad hardly points towards a notable change in circumstance anytime soon.
This might have been a mistake by Barcelona. Of course, both the Croat and the Chilean have something to offer to the team but both are over 30 and their collective presence could be standing in the way of Alena and Puig.
Still, talk of Rakitić leaving in January is floating around the media and looking at the situation as a whole – despite the playmaker’s undeniable influence on the team – Blaugrana should consider moving him on for the sake of their La Masia talents.
Alena featured in the curtain-raiser against Athletic Bilbao and was then promptly left out of the squad for the next two clashes. Puig, meanwhile, has been back with Barcelona B and is yet to feature in La Liga this season, despite being included in the squad in pre-season and participating in some training sessions with the seniors,
This just might be a clear sign from Valverde that there’s no real place for either player in the team, especially now that Sergi Roberto has been moved to midfield and Frenkie de Jong has also slotted right into the starting lineup.
The only solution is to either bench the veterans for the youngsters or to thin the herd with some much-needed player sales.
Let’s see what kind of decision Valverde makes in the end.