The 2022-23 season is a massive one for Barcelona as they look for a return to prominence. The post-Lionel Messi era has been rough with the club failing to win a trophy last season, one peppered with inconsistent, below-par performances. There were more bad moments than good, losing two of three meetings with Real Madrid, crashing out of the Champions League group stage and then getting crushed by eventual Europa League champions Eintracht Frankfurt.
There were flashes of greatness which provides a glimmer of hope. The 4-0 win at Real Madrid in El Clasico showed just what this team could do, but declarations about returning to prominence after that match — I’m looking at you, Gerard Pique — proved to be premature.
There are fantastic young pieces to build around, and if Barça can land players this summer that they covet — all the while balancing their finances, which is crucial for Joan Laporta — then there is no reason why they can’t contend in La Liga next season.
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Here’s a look at how things stand with the Barça squad, who they could and should go after and much more:
Barcelona goalkeeper outlook
Staying: Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Arnau TenasPotentially leaving: Neto
They are set in goal with ter Stegen, and now it is just about adding depth if Neto leaves. Tenas may just be the future in goal at the club, but getting a proven backup to ter Stegen would make a lot of sense. They are comfortable with how things stand.
Ideal moves: Grabbing somebody who is out of contract — such as Napoli’s David Ospina or Villarreal’s Sergio Asenjo — makes a lot of sense as a back-up.
Barcelona defense outlook
Staying: Ronald Araujo, Eric Garcia, Jordi Alba, Oscar Mingueza, Gerard PiqueLeaving: Dani AlvesUncertain future: Sergino Dest, Clement Lenglet, Samuel UmtitiLoan option: Alex Balde
The defense needs a lot of work, and it will be up to Xavi to determine if he wants to go with Pique and a young center back or look toward the future with Garcia and Araujo. They need some depth there though with Lenglet possibly on the way out, and that depth looks to be coming. The expectation is for Andreas Christensen to join on a free transfer from Chelsea. American Sergino Dest looks destined to be a bench player, but he’ll have time to impress … or potentially quite the opposite.
Ideal moves: Getting Christensen would be a big boost for an inconsistent defense, one that also relies on fullbacks getting forward so much. Xavi does not seem convinced with Dest, so doing something there makes a ton of sense, whether that involves moving him or even giving him more time in an advanced position where he’s better. There is not much there in terms of players whose contracts are expiring, but maybe Atletico Madrid’s Sime Vrsaljko? There have been links with Chelsea’s left back Marcos Alonso as well, while somebody such as Sevilla’s Gonzalo Montiel could make sense too. Getting Christensen and Alonso would be a fine start.
Barcelona midfield outlook
Staying: Sergio Busquets, Gavi, Pedri, Nico, Sergi RobertoArriving: TBDUncertain futures: Frenkie de Jong, Riqui Puig, Miralem Pjanic
With Frenkie de Jong linked to Manchester United, Miralem Pjanic likely on his way out and Riqui Puig far from the first choice, the midfield needs some serious juice. On the free-agent train again, Barça are expected to land Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie. They would certainly love to land somebody such as Valencia’s Carlos Soler, Wolverhampton’s Ruben Neves or Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva, but they aren’t expected to have the resources for that unless they make some serious sales.
Ideal moves: The creativity in the midfield is locked in via Pedri, so pairing him with Busquets and Kessie would work nicely. From there, they would certainly want to add another creative piece to help get the attack going. They likely wouldn’t touch former Real Madrid man Isco, who is a free agent, but making a play for fellow free agent Christian Eriksen would make a ton of sense and be fairly low risk.
Barcelona attack outlook
Staying: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres
Returning from loan: Antoine Griezmann, Trincao
Expected to leave: Luuk de Jong, Adama TraoreUncertain futures: Martin Braithwaite, Memphis Depay, Ousmane DembeleLoan option: Abde Ezzalzouli, Islias Akhomach, Rey Manaj
So many question marks here for this attack with a few players looking like locks to be a part of the team’s plans. Aubameyang is the starter at striker, unless a certain Polish star joins, and they seem fairly set on the wing, especially if Dembele stays put and re-signs. He has shown improvement and flashes while staying fairly healthy, averaging 38 appearances the last two seasons. If they can keep him, then they would need striker depth and wing depth. That striker depth may just be having Aubameyang.
Ideal moves: The summer story here has been their pursuit of Robert Lewandowski. One of the world’s greatest players and an absolute pure striker, he would give Barça a legit attack to contend in at least their two domestic competitions. Would he come in at a discount so that Laporta is able ot properly balance the books? It probably won’t be easy without selling some key pieces. If they can get him on board, that will allow the flexibility to use Aubameyang on the wing as well. Griezmann is likely out, but they would be pretty set by just landing their biggest fish. Maybe just then Pique will be right by declaring that Barça are back.