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Report: Barcelona plan major squad overhaul

Report: Barcelona plan major squad overhaul

Barcelona’s first team is expected to undergo a major shake-up ahead of the 2020-21 campaign in response to challenges the club faces amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lionel Messi, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and Frenkie de Jong will be the only players not made available during the next transfer window, according to ESPN FC’s Moises Llorens and Sam Marsden.

Barcelona intend to limit spending, though they continue to view themselves as a top destination for the game’s biggest stars and will explore alternate avenues to bring the best players to the Camp Nou.

“There is not going to be as much money in the transfer market because of the pandemic,” club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said at the end of March, according to Llorens and Marsden.

He added: “But I predict that we are going to see a lot more swap deals.”

Outside of the aforementioned trio that Barcelona consider “untouchable,” the squad could be used to finance deals for top targets including Inter forward Lautaro Martinez and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar.

Claudio Villa – Inter / FC Internazionale / Getty

Barcelona have previously held talks with Inter to explore ways – such as player exchanges – to sign Martinez for a price lower than his €111-million release clause. Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal has attracted the most interest from the Serie A club in a possible swap deal for Martinez, while Ivan Rakitic, Carles Alena, and Rafinha have also reportedly been mentioned in negotiations.

The club’s priority continues to be bringing back Neymar after he was heavily linked with a return last summer, just two years following his shock move to Paris. Barcelona unsuccessfully attempted to include Rakitic, Philippe Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti, Jean-Clair Todibo, and Ousmane Dembele in various deals to sign Neymar in 2019.

However, it’s unlikely Barcelona will be able to sign both players.

The Catalan club will also be in search of a long-term replacement for center-back Gerard Pique, as well as a right-back and physical midfielder, according to Llorens and Marsden.

TF-Images / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Antoine Griezmann is among the most noteworthy players Barcelona consider available after he was brought to the Camp Nou from Atletico Madrid for €120 million just last summer. Barca will likely struggle to recuperate that fee, as he scored only eight goals in 26 La Liga appearances during his debut season before play was halted last month.

Meanwhile, it was announced earlier this month that Barcelona players agreed to a 70% pay cut and will make additional financial contributions to ensure the club’s employees receive their full pay during the COVID-19 lockdown in Spain.