BARCELONA

Barcelona to sign a striker as a smokescreen to placate fans

Rodrigo and Lautaro are the big favourites to join Barça during the January window. Against Valencia, Setién didn't have any strikers on the subs' bench.

Barcelona to sign a striker as a smokescreen to placate fans

When Maxi Gómez's shot took a deflection off Jordi Alba and looped into the net yesterday in Valencia, Quique Setién looked back at the Barça bench only to discover that he didn't have a striker to bring on. On the bench were Iñaki Peña, Lenglet, Júnior, Lenglet, Semedo, Rakitic, Vidal and Collado.

Carles Pérez, who signed a new contract taking him to 2022 back in September - which suggests the club believe he has a future with them, was back at home packing his suitcase.  After giving the best years of his life to Barça, the 21-year-old forward has been told to find a new club and has been given six days to find one.

And while poor old Carles Pérez was sorting out his things at home, Barça were imploding before our very eyes in Valencia, where they managed just five shots on goal during the entire 90 minutes - four of the from Messi and one, almost joke effort from De Jong.

LaLiga Santander

Table PTS W D L
1Barcelona 43 13 4 4
2Real Madrid 43 12 7 1
3Sevilla 38 11 5 5
Full standing
Next matches
Barcelona - Levante D-02/02 21:00
Betis - Barcelona D-09/02 21:00
Barcelona - Getafe S-15/02 16:00
Fixtures

*Update 25 de enero de 2020

If one thing is certain, it's that Barcelona will bring in a new striker this week as a smokescreen in a bid to calm the storm of criticism for the calamitous decisions that the club has made over the past few weeks - from loaning players, allowing home-grown youth team players to leave and changing the coach - and there is a big question mark over the coach who has just come in.

Then, on top of all of that is Luis Suárez's absence. There's no doubt that Barça are missing the input of a player who has played a part in 25 of the team's goals this season. So Setién will have alternatives in attack but he still needs to isolate the weaknesses of his system and fix them. Lautaro Martínez or Rodrigo are the big two favourites to sign for Barça, although some observers sense that the club will only be getting the chequebook out as a diversion from all of the other problems at the club.