Barcelona’s season is not going as planned, that much we know.
Ronald Koeman is under a ridiculous amount of pressure, the club are still in crippling financial debt and the playing squad has been left depleted by the departures of some of the game’s biggest names.
But there was a time not so long ago when these problems didn’t seem to exist. Indeed, Barça were still being linked with signing the best players in the world as recently as January, and the problems that we see now were still bubbling away under the surface.
One such player that Barcelona were repeatedly linked with was midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum. His contract at Liverpool was coming to an end, and all signs pointed towards a Dutch reunion with Koeman at Camp Nou.
Inevitably though, it didn’t happen. PSG dramatically stepped in with a financial package that Wijnaldum simply couldn’t say no to, and in a heartbeat, Koeman’s main transfer target had slipped through his fingers.
Despite that, his plans to revamp Barcelona’s midfield – regardless of his job being under constant scrutiny – have remained.
Pedri and Frenkie de Jong are seen as the present and future of Barça, while there’s great hope for emerging talent Gavi. But outside of that, there’s very little quality in the middle of the park to get excited about – sorry, Sergio Busquets.
That’s where Sport claim four players from across Europe come into the picture.
The first is Tanguy Ndombele, who has endured a bit of a rollercoaster ride at Tottenham over the past 18 months and was even offered to Barcelona over the summer.
He’s recently come back into the Spurs side after a spell out of favour, and although he’s looked promising in patches, there’s little evidence to suggest that he has won over Nuno Espirito Santo. It’s the whole Jose Mourinho experience again, to be honest.
There’s also talk of moves for Marcelo Brozovic and Franck Kessie, both of whom would represent fantastic value for money options, They are out of contract next summer at Inter and AC Milan, respectively, and both will have plenty of suitors queueing up to secure their signatures.
From a financial perspective, they make the most sense for Barça, and importantly have shown more than enough quality in Serie A to suggest they are good enough to improve the Catalan giants.
The wildcard option is Manchester United’s Donny van de Beek, another fellow countryman of Koeman’s who is really struggling to make his mark in England.
There seems to be nothing the 25-year-old can do to convince Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that he’s worthy of more minutes, and it’s surely a matter of when – not if – the club agree to move him on and recoup some of the £35m they paid Ajax for his services in 2020.
That said, Van de Beek remains keen – for now – to prove his worth, and United have not shown a willingness to entertain any offers. Whether or not that stance would remain the same should Barça lodge a bid remains to be seen.
Nonetheless, his box-to-box midfield qualities reflect the kind of player Koeman is so keen to bring in, and with Memphis Depay also strutting his stuff at Barça, it would surely be an appealing option for Van de Beek irrespective of their current plight.