Barcelona: De Ligt, Griezmann shape up as pre-overhaul buys
Barcelona were already planning to bring in Matthijs de Ligt. Meanwhile, Antoine Griezmann would be a wholly riskier signing for the Catalans.
The show must go on, and Barcelona will go on - with a huge black mark on their track record in the shape of that 4-0 hammering in Liverpool, but armed with signings brought in to paper over the cracks exposed at Anfield until a more thorough squad overhaul can be carried out in 2021. And two names stand out in particular: Matthijs de Ligt and Antoine Griezmann.
De Ligt already a major summer target for Barcelona
De Ligt, who is Ajax captain despite being just 19, was already a major part of Barça's summer transfer plans, and the Blaugrana can only be expected to double down on their efforts to sign the centre-back now. A figure who boasts the kind of physical presence that is badly needed on occasions like Tuesday, De Ligt is a player who the club are eager to make Gerard Piqué's defensive partner for the final years of the 32-year-old's career, before slotting a new face in alongside the Dutchman.
In his most recent interviews, club president Josep María Bartomeu has dropped hints that De Ligt will be a Barça player next term. It is far from a done deal, though, not least because there is also strong interest from other major sides such as Bayern Munich and Juventus, who are thought to be ready to pay the teenager a higher wage than the Catalans. What's more, the involvement of an agent as unpredictable as Mino Raiola adds further suspense to a deal which Barça do appear well-placed to clinch - but whose outcome we won't find out until after the Champions League final (if Ajax finally get there, of course).
Griezmann shapes up as post-debacle statement signing
Meanwhile, the signing of Griezmann would be a statement buy with which to placate the dissenters in the wake of the Catalans' successive traumatic exits from the Champions League. However, Barça must also consider the consequences of making such a move. On 1 July, Griezmann's Atlético Madrid buy-out clause drops from 200m to 130m euros (or 120m, depending on who you believe), and having missed out on Griezmann a year ago, Barça may try again this summer, albeit they can expect competition from other, powerful suitors. However, there are factors that lead one to question how beneficial his arrival would be.
Firstly, there is the matter of how he would be received by major dressing-room figures such as Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez, who publicly endorsed his signing in 2018 only to see Griezmann turn his back on a move to Barcelona. Furthermore, there is a purely footballing issue that could be caused by the 28-year-old's addition to the squad: the role in which he has excelled at Atlético is, to all intents and purposes, the one that Messi has also occupied in recent seasons...
Griezmann has long been eyed by Barcelona chiefs as they prepare for life after Messi and Suárez, but when the big-name pair do leave, the World Cup winner will himself be at least 30. With renewed European humiliation sparking a state of crisis at the Camp Nou, the club's board is under pressure to act - but whether he'd be the right move to make is not at all clear.
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