With the future of Paris-bound Neymar now confirmed and an impending €222m transfer fee, the Catalan giants will have a little less than a month to find a suitable replacement. While they still have the immeasurable talents of both Messi and Suarez to call on, both of those players are over 30 now and don’t possess the dynamism or speed they once did. If Barcelona are going to compete with high flying Real Madrid domestically or in Europe, they’re going to need to find someone to take up the soon to be vacant spot on the left side of Barca’s trident.
1. Antoine Griezmann
Before a transfer ban halted any potential moves Atletico Madrid could make, Antoine Griezmann was odds on to join Jose Mourinho’s rebuild at Manchester United. The plan fell through, though, and Lukaku was brought in as an alternate source of goals. With Atletico’s transfer ban expiring in January 2018, Barcelona may elect to wait until the season’s halfway point to potentially make a move for the French forward.
Griezmann has been in La Liga for several years now and has gone from strength to strength, his comfort and familiarity in the league will definitely count as bonuses. Likely to command a fee in excess of €90m, Griezmann is unlikely to be afforded by any except the most elite in Europe’s ranks, making Barcelona one of only a small number of potential destinations. He’s hinted at his own ambition to win major titles, and the Nou Camp would make an ideal place for him to make good on those words.
2. Angel Di Maria
The former Real Madrid and Manchester United wide man has been plying his trade at none other than Neymar’s new home, PSG’s Parc de Princes. While he’s not in his peak-years anymore, the 29-year- old Argentine is still a potent attacking outlet and can pose a threat on either the left or right flank, making him a flexible option for Barcelona to potentially explore.
Javier Mascherano and Lionel Messi are both teammates of his from the Argentinean national side so he wouldn’t take long to settle in the new surroundings. Neymar will be taking up one of the wide forward slots for PSG, so Di Maria may fear that his playing time could be limited. He can ill afford a lack of match sharpness before a World Cup year when he’ll want to be in top form to ensure his national team selection. Barcelona might be able to guarantee more minutes than PSG and could prove to be a tempting prospect.
3. Ousmane Dembele
The French national team is currently churning out attacking talent at an unprecedented rate, and among that number is the electric Ousmane Dembele. Dembele stormed onto the scene as a teenager for Rennes in Ligue 1 in the 2015/2016 season and already got several high profile clubs’ attentions. After only a single season in the Rennes first team, he was scouted and transferred to Borussia Dortmund where he has put in exciting performances on their wing. With Neymar’s departure Barcelona will lack any true pace in their attack, which would be remedied with the arrival of someone like Dembele. He’s young and still technically raw, but his potential is clearly evident and Barcelona might provide the ideal environment for him to grow his talent.
Neymar’s departure from Spain will have repercussions that will extend far beyond the Catalan club, but for the Barcelona board doing damage control and finding a replacement that can keep them competitive will be of paramount importance. We’ve looked at three possibilities here, which star do you think Barcelona should chase down?
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