Barcelona squad for LaLiga 2022-23: player profiles - Lewandowski, Pedri, Raphinha, Dest...
Barcelona have been active in the transfer market despite the club’s financial issues and the Catalans will be a force on the pitch in 2022-23.
It has, by the standards of any club in the world, been a spectacularly successful summer in the transfer market for Barcelona. The question that has many Camp Nou fans concerned though is: at what price has it been achieved? Club president Joan Laporta has been playing a game of economic brinkmanship involving economic “levers” that some fear is simply another way of mortgaging the club’s future against outside elements. Laporta argues that his methods have brought Barça back from the edge of the financial abyss, and there is some truth to that, but the issue of the club’s crippling wage bill remains unsolved – to the extent that new signings Franck Kessié and Andreas Christensen may be forced to leave if they cannot be registered to play in LaLiga. Gerard Piqué has even offered to play for free to alleviate the situation while Xavi operates behind the scenes in attempt to offload Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay to raise funds.
Meanwhile, fan favourite Nico, the precocious Spain under-21 international, has been sent out on loan to Valencia. The arrival of Robert Lewandowski alone is enough to ensure Barcelona will be in the mix domestically and in Europe this season, but there is a sense that Laporta is banking on a magic wand whereas a solid broom taken to the club’s books may be more pragmatic. However, a big-money deal with Spotify and the sale of television rights to a US investment firm have provided a much-needed injection of fast cash.
We take a look at some of the key players who will be tasked with bringing on-pitch success to Barça, who have not won a Liga title since 2018-19 and last tasted Champions League success in 2015.
The scorer of 344 goals in 375 games for Bayern Munich, Lewandowski has bagged 40 or more in each of his last seven seasons and is the greatest assurance of finding the back of the net in world football at the moment. It is almost inconceivable that he will not maintain that scoring form in Spain given the quality of the service that will be provided and in signing the Poland captain Barça have made themselves contenders on all fronts in one flourish of a pen.
One of the Barça hierarchy’s priorities beyond adding some firepower was to tie the Spain international down to a long-term deal. And they did not mess about in doing so. The 19-year-old Spain international is seen as the future of Barça’s midfield – therein the club’s willingness to past company with De Jong is the price is right – and a staggering €1 billion release clause was inserted into the deal he signed last October. It is no coincidence he has been handed the number eight for the 2022-23 season: Barça expect him to wear it for the remainder of his top-level career as Andrés Iniesta did.
Barça stumped up €58m to sign the Brazilian winger from Leeds in something of a gamble: the 25-year-old has recently established himself in the Canarinha but is hardly prolific with 61 career senior club goals to his name. He bagged 11 last season at Elland Road, his highest return yet, and striking up an immediate understanding with Lewandowski will be key to the success of the transfer. Raphinha has managed 38 assists in his career and his arrival will mean switching Ousmane Dembélé to the left permanently. The Frenchman provided 13 in just 21 Liga appearances last season, more than any other player in the division.
Paradoxically, a player Barcelona were desperate to shift in January may prove to be one of the best bits of business they have done this summer after the France winger signed a new deal in July. The mercurial winger finished the Liga season in excellent form and has carried that over into pre-season with some spectacular performances. If there were any doubts about Xavi’s ability to manage egos in the squad, his rehabilitation of the 25-year-old World Cup-winner has dispelled them.
Half of Europe was linked with Dembélé's international teammate in the summer and it was quite a coup when Laporta managed to rustle up the €50m required to bring him to Camp Nou. A central defender – a position Barça desperately need improvement in given Piqué's advancing years and Samuel Umtiti’s injury record – he can also play at right back, another area where Barça are a little light after failing to land César Azpilicueta and with Sergiño Dest seemingly in a state of permanent rehearsal for the full time gig.
The United States international is now the only recognized right back in the senior set-up at Barcelona and he seems to have convinced Xavi of his value after being initially sparsely used upon the return of the legendary midfielder. The 21-year-old’s versatility is useful given the squad imbalances Barça currently face: he can play on the left or right of defence and was sometimes deployed as a right winger last season. Much is expected of Dest this season, which is make-or-break for the Ajax academy product.
Barcelona transfers 2022-23
Raphinha (Leeds United): €58m
Jules Koundé (Sevilla): €50m
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich): €45m
Franck Kessié (AC Milan): free
Andreas Christensen (Chelsea): free
Philippe Coutinho (Aston Villa): €20m
Francisco Trincão (Sporting Lisbon): loan fee €3m
Riqui Puig (LA Galaxy): free
Óscar Mingueza (Celta Vigo): free
Neto (Bournemouth): free
Rey Manaj (Watford): free
Moussa Wagué (HNK Gorica): free
Dani Alves (UNAM): free
Clément Lenglet (Tottenham): loan
Nico (Valencia): loan