Barcelona Quietly Confident in Prepping for La Liga Season

Aug 03, 2016 by Alex Baker

With Premier League clubs snapping up every available player, the relative inactivity from the big Spanish clubs suggests that the English teams’ “arms race” is at least on some level, an effort to catch up with the La Liga powers. Like Real Madrid, Barcelona have been relatively quiet on the market this summer.

While the La Liga champions have made a couple of defensive moves—bringing in left-back Lucas Digne as a replacement for the now-departed Dani Alves, acquiring center-back Samuel Umtiti from Lyon, they haven’t really made any kind of “statement signing.”

Andre’ Gomes, the Portuguese central midfielder who won the Euros with his national team last month has been brought in from Valencia. Denis Suarez has been bought back with the club having exercised his buy back clause less than a year after he was sold to Villarreal. Meanwhile defensive midfielder Sergi Samper has been promoted from Barcelona B.

But the overall indication is that Barça manager Luis Enrique is content with his squad. Indeed there’ve been far more outs than ins this summer. In addition to Alves, who’s joined Juventus, we’ve seen Marc Bartra go to Borussia Dortmund, Alen Halilovic go to Hambur, Adriano leave for Besiktas, Sandro Ramirez depart to Malaga, Alex Song gone to Rubin Kazan and Martin Montoya sold to Valencia.

If the rumors are to be believed, Enrique would also like to clear out Cristian Tello, Douglas and Thomas Vermaelen.

Barça are still thought to be in the market for another striker to serve as backup for the likes of Luis Suarez, Neymar or Lionel Messi. Having apparently lost out on Gabriel Jesus, who looks on the verge of signing for Manchester City, it’s believed that club will turn their attentions to Gremio striker Luan Guilherme.

The 23-year-old Guilherme, like Jesus, is currently on Olympic duty for Brazil. With Enrique reportedly looking for a young striker who can be developed with an eye to the future, the Gremio man could fit the bill.

There are also rumors about signing a more experienced striker – Mario Mandzukic or Robin van Persie perhaps – who would be more accepting of a role on the bench, but could prove reliable backup for the MSN.

But perhaps the biggest coup Enrique can hope to full off in the market this summer, will be to keep hold of both of his top-choice goalkeepers. Claudio Bravo and Marc Andre Ter-Stegen have done an admirable job of dividing net-minding duties over the past two seasons. Bravo has handled La Liga, while Ter-Stegen has been on Champions League and cup duty.

Ter-Stegen has become increasingly vocal about his displeasure of being left on the bench. The German, at 24, is nearly 10 years younger than Bravo, and could be a long-term successor to Victor Valdez as Barça’s first-choice keeper. Although with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City reportedly interested, Barcelona may find their hand forced, in which case Bravo would seem the player more likely to be sold on.

Barcelona open their La Liga campaign on August 20 at home against Real Betis. Before that, the Catalans will face Sevilla over two legs of the UEFA Super Cup.

In the meantime you can catch the La Liga champions in action in the International Champions Cup, first against Premier League champions Leicester City on Wednesday August 3 at 2:00 p.m. EST, and again against Liverpool on Saturday August 6 at 12:15 p.m. EST. Both ICC matches will be aired on ESPN.

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