Barça: Mertens, Giroud, Gotze all possible Luis Suarez injury cover
The defending Liga champions are in dire need of a replacement for the injured Uruguayan and could turn to these players on deadline day.
Talk of a massive bid for Everton’s Brazilian forward Richarlison and interest in Chelsea winger Willian suggest that Barcelona have reached for the gun marked “scatter” in their search for a signing before the January transfer window closes. Sky Sports reported that the Camp Nou board had sanctioned an offer of around €100m for Richarlison, only to be told no dice by Carlo Ancelotti, while a more modest bid for 31-year-old Willian may be worth a shot but will hardly provide the necessary cover for long-term injury absentee Luis Suárez.
Barça are not short of wide men, as Carles Pérez can confirm having been shunted off to Roma halfway through what appeared to be his breakthrough season at Camp Nou. Arsenal will not part with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lightly, Valencia have held form on Rodrigo and there are few other options on the table for the Catalans, who are eager not to repeat the bizarre experiment of a year ago when Kevin-Prince Boateng rocked up in Barcelona to deliver 240 goalless minutes over half a season.
With the clock ticking towards the end of the window, we take a look at a few options Barcelona may pursue on deadline day, while the Camp Nou suits rue their inaction on Erling Braut Haaland, who went to Borussia Dortmund for just €20m earlier in the month.
The Belgium forward is out of contract at the end of the season and was one of the players singled out by Aurelio De Laurentiis for the mini-rebellion earlier in the season under Carlo Ancelotti’s tutelage. The arrival of Gennaro Gattuso at the San Paolo has unsurprisingly deterred further dissent but Napoli are out of the running in Serie A despite a 2-1 victory over Juventus and Mertens won’t be offered the chance to remain beyond the end of the season. The Belgium international has 118 goals in 300 appearances for the club and remains a source of plenty of assists.
The hero of Germany’s 2014 World Cup victory has had his share of injury problems and will fall further down the pecking order following the arrival of Haaland, who has scored five goals for the club in just 57 minutes of action. Göteze has managed only 579 minutes for his boyhood club this season and while he is hardly a prolific scorer in the mold of Suárez, he offers experience and the ability to put a defence on the back foot. Like Mertens, he is also out of contract in June.
“It would be better for him, of course, to go to a club where he would get more playing time. If he can’t get it at Chelsea, the idea is to get it elsewhere” said France manager Didier Deschamps in December in what has become the soundtrack to Giroud’s late career. Once again a luxury bench-warmer at Stamford Bridge, Giroud has been the subject of interest from Serie A, Spurs and Newcastle but he would surely relish a move to Camp Nou with the Euros approaching. It is worth noting Giroud played every game of France’s 2018 World Cup triumph; he may not have registered a shot on target during the tournament but was widely credited with providing the room for Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé to do their thing. The former Arsenal forward remains hot property and Barça will need to act quickly.
Closer to home, Barça could look to Anoeta for their number nine. The Brazilian is a proven scorer with a nose for the big stage and has been plying his trade in LaLiga since 2013-14, when he was at Real Madrid Castilla. Tottenham, Spurs and West Ham are all eyeing the 28-year-old, who would set back any buyer to the tune of around €20m.
It would represent a bit of a gamble given that the Germany youth international has barely played all season and is yet to make his senior debut for Bayern Munich but if Barça can get him fit and use him sensibly Arp could be a handy addition for six months. The 20-year-old was bought as one for the future and won’t be getting near the Bayern side any time soon and the Bavarians may feel a short loan could be just the tonic for the former Hamburg striker, who was signed last summer.