BARCELONA

Barcelona's squad redesign needs to start taking shape now

Barça's squad for 2021-22 will be built with doubts over Messi's future, the difficulty in signing stars like Neymar or Haaland or going low cost (Wijnaldum, Agüero, Depay...).

Barcelona's squad redesign needs to start taking shape now
Germán Parga FC BARCELONA

It's going to be interesting to see how Barcelona construct their squad for the 2021-22 season. At least how they go about adding some of the new features in the renovation process which Ronald Koeman started earlier this season. Many aspects remain up in the air for different reasons. These are days of endless meetings in the club offices at Can Barça, with Laporta, Yuste, Alemany and Planes debtaing how and where to start.

The first matter that needs to be resolved is Messi's contract. Progress has been difficult during the past couple of weeks because on-field matters such as the Clásico and this weekend's Copa del Rey final against Athletic have taken priority. Getting the thumbs up or down from Messi regarding his continuity or not is vital for the club to be able to gauge what economic margins they will be able to work within. On Tuesday, Barça president Joan Laporta was seen giving Messi a hug during the official team photo shoot. It's the clearest sign that the president and player get on well but nor it is any guarantee of what Messi will decide to do at the end of the season.

Just as unclear is whether Barcelona will be able to secure a marquee summer signing. Joan Laporta has met with Mino Raiola to get the lowdown on Haaland; and with Pini Zahavi to discuss Neymar and Alaba. And that suggests that the project is not heading in a specific direction. Haaland is a centre-forward, Neymar a player who moves between lines or plays as an out-and-out winger. If the club decides on the Norwegian, they will struggle to inlcude players in the operation. If they go for Neymar, Griezmann and Dembélé, especially the latter, could enter the deal as makeweights.

There is another possibility - if Barça find out that they simply don't have the money to bring in a superstar. If that is the case, the project would consist of renewing Messi's contract and making a handful of low cost signings. That was the idea which Víctor Font had in mind. It would involve signing Èric García, Gini Wijnaldum, Kun Agüero and Memphis Depay. What ever happens, a new deal for Messi is the chief part of the puzzle. How the club goes about that will be down to Laporta, Alemany and their team. Now is the moment when Barcelona's project needs to take a direction.