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Douglas, Vermaelen, Samper, Munir...


Real Madrid presented Theo on Monday evening, honourably stolen from Atlético Madrid (I've borrowed the phrase from the ashtrays of the leading hotels in Spain in the sixties, which displayed the inscription). Together with Theo, who is coming in to cover for Marcelo, also heading to the Bernabéu, by one route or another, are Vallejo, central defender, and Marcos Llorente, central midfielder. These are exciting signings for Real Madrid, who are also still on the trail of Mbappé, whose possible move to the Spanish capital is waiting for one of the bbC to leave. You'll have noticed that in AS we are writing 'bbC' with two small b's and one capital C. It seems only fair. One part is one thing, and the other two are something else entirely.

Barcelona's summer signings

But what I was getting at is that while Madrid are busy signing players that fit their squad, or not signing players that don't, Barça are faced with the inevitable return of various players who were out on loan: I'm talking about Douglas, Vermaelen, Samper, Munir... Having seen what they did away from the Camp Nou, do any of them give any hope that they'll improve the current Barcelona side? Football is full of variables, and throws up surprises, of course. We've seen how the same group that performed so depressingly under Benítez won two Champions League with Zidane. The question now is whether Valverde can shake up the group he's inherited, with the return of these loaned out players.

Verratti could be the key for Barcelona

The key could be Verratti. He's a fine player and could work wonders for a squad who are always going to have Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar up front. This brooding Barcelona, who look jealously at the footballing riches of Madrid, have decided to bet the farm on acquiring Verratti as the corner stone of a project where Xavi has already left and Iniesta will also soon be departing, both overtaken by time. Whether Verratti does or doesn't come, the returning loanees are the players who at one point were thought to be the replacements for that amazing Barcelona that has disappeared and never returned. Douglas, Vermaelen, Samper, Munir... said like that, it's hard to get too excited.