Barcelona Transfer DealSheet: Busquets replacement still wanted – but sales come first


It might not surprise you to hear that Barcelona are in for a busy summer transfer window.

Their financial situation means incoming deals are looking difficult — but efforts are being made to improve the picture, and that will almost certainly include player sales.

Hansi Flick has just been appointed Xavi’s replacement as head coach — after a turbulent few months of tension and turnarounds — but club president Joan Laporta and sporting director Deco will be the busier figures in the immediacy, as key decisions are made over who in the squad stays and who goes.

Barcelona are looking at ways of improving their squad but, as we explain in full below, there are hurdles to clear first.

What positions are they looking at this summer?

There are two main roles the club would like to tackle in this summer’s transfer window.

The biggest priority is a new holding midfielder. Barca have not yet been able to find a suitable replacement for long-time stalwart Sergio Busquets, who left the club after the 2022-23 season at the age of 35.

Xavi was forced to use four players in that role last season — Oriol Romeu, Ilkay Gundogan (two signings from last summer), Frenkie de Jong and Andreas Christensen — but none of them looked comfortable, either because they were being played out of their natural position or they simply struggled to cope with the team’s demands.

Busquets now plays for Inter Miami in MLS, with fellow Barca great Lionel Messi (Chris Arjoon/AFP via Getty Images)

The club’s hierarchy would also like to add a new left winger to a team who failed to produce the attacking numbers they were expected to last season. Another right-back would be welcomed as well, but, given the financial constraints, Barca know it won’t be easy to meet all their targets.

Which players are they looking at?

This is a fun question, because the appointment of Flick might well change everything we thought we knew.

Xavi and Deco had discussed a list of names, which included Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich and Martin Zubimendi of Real Sociedad as the manager’s dream options to bolster the midfield. Argentina international Guido Rodriguez, 30, of Real Betis was the budget option.

Among the attacking options, despite Xavi putting the name of Athletic Bilbao’s Nico Williams forward, Deco’s preferred option was Liverpool’s Luis Diaz.

We probably don’t need to point out that, for any of this to happen, Barcelona would need to make big-money sales.

La Liga rules mean they must fill a €130million (£110m; $141m) hole in their accounts for last season by the end of this month if they are to bring in any new players over the summer — even free agents or loan signings.

What moves have they made already?

Not many, because of their financial situation. Barcelona do not yet know how much money they will be able to spend this summer.

Despite this, they have already made contact with representatives of Rodriguez, who is less than a month from the end of his contract at Betis and can then join any club for free. There is an understanding the Argentinian — who was part of their squad that won the 2022 World Cup, but made just one substitute appearance in the tournament — would be willing to join Barca.

The club also have big decisions to make with Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix.

Both are unwanted at their current clubs (Manchester City and Atletico Madrid respectively) and their seasons on loan in Catalonia were far from successful.

Joao Felix, Raphinha and Joao Cancelo (Pedro Salado/Getty Images)

The duo would like to stay with Barcelona — they’ve settled well in the city and most likely see a better future for themselves with Barca than back at City or Atletico. The relationship between Laporta and agent Jorge Mendes, who represents both players, will play a key role in any deals.

Who will make the key decisions this summer?

It is going to be down to Laporta and Deco. Both want to have full control of assembling next season’s squad, while listening to the new coach’s preferences and trying to adapt to them. The transfer policy and financial situation were discussed with Flick during talks leading up to his appointment, and the German showed no objections towards what was suggested.

Who will they be looking to sell?

Given the club’s financial situation, any good offer will be listened to — although some players are considered untouchable. These include Lamine Yamal, Gavi, Pedri and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

A case of huge debate is Ronald Araujo. Laporta wants to keep him, as does Deco. But the Uruguay international defender is still waiting for a new contract offer with improved terms that place him among the club’s top earners. There are doubts, however, over whether they can really afford to give him such a deal.

Would they really be in a position to refuse a sizeable bid for a player whose current contract expires in summer 2026? The answer is probably not.

Araujo will play for Uruguay at this summer’s Copa America (Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

Raphinha is another player Barcelona would be willing to sell for the right price. In this same category are Frenkie de Jong and Andreas Christensen. However, none of them wants to leave and they are all under contract until beyond the end of next season.

Romeu, another under contract until 2026, is expected to leave the club permanently, just a year after rejoining his boyhood team following 12 years away with Chelsea, Southampton and Girona.

Which players’ contracts are expiring? Who is expected to renew?

Defender Marcos Alonso’s contract is expiring and will not be renewed. Midfielder and 2023-24 captain Sergi Roberto, who is in the same situation, was expected to sign a new deal under Xavi. Now, with the changes incoming, his future does not look that safe and Flick will definitely have the last word.

The board have reassured 32-year-old Roberto of their willingness to continue with the club he joined at age 14, as long as there is the room financially to register him. But right now, he only has that verbal agreement to hold onto.

Sources close to the player say he feels closer to a permanent departure. They say he has never wanted to listen to rival offers because Barca are his club after all these years, and that there is no problem with staying on the reduced salary which was agreed around his last contract renewal.

Roberto made his senior debut at Barcelona in 2010 (Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

Now, for the first time, he is listening to what other clubs have to say, in case Barca cannot make the sums work and he ends up as a free agent this summer.

What sort of budget do they have?

Ah, the question that will define Barcelona’s summer.

The answer depends on how much money they can bring in. Barca sources say they are continuing to work on unblocking up to €100million in revenue related to the ‘lever’ sales of future revenues from the club’s media arms. They are also planning to make player sales, and talks over a new kit deal with Nike are progressing well — again, according to club sources.

What is the manager’s priority?

It is difficult to know when Flick has not been presented to the media and will not give any press conference until July.

In negotiations over succeeding Xavi, Flick said he believes the current squad is competitive and capable of winning trophies. Which is perhaps just as well, because Barca do not yet know how much money, if any, they will be able to invest in it this summer.

Flick’s main priority must be to give stability to the team. Barcelona are coming from a very turbulent few years and need a period of calm. Those close to the former Bayern and Germany manager say this suits his character and style.

Perhaps the fact that he does not live Barca in the passionate way Camp Nou playing great Xavi did, for better or for worse, could help him be better protected from the club’s infamous ‘entorno’, and to be more pragmatic in terms of the team.

(Top photo: Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

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