The reliable CatRadio have this evening outlandishly claimed that Barcelona will attempt to coax both Neymar and Antoine Griezmann to the club this summer.
In this piece, we took a look at how the La Liga champions could line up next season, with two of world football’s most gifted attackers added to the Blaugrana’s already star-studded frontline.
Following 4 trophy-laden seasons at the Camp Nou, Brazilian superstar Neymar made the move to PSG in the summer of 2017, for a world-record 222 million Euro fee.
Barcelona quickly moved to replace the Selecao star, snapping up Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund for a fee with the potential to rise to almost 150 million Euro.
However, to say that both moves have since proven somewhat underwhelming would be putting it lightly.
While Neymar has absolutely dazzled when fit and firing at the Parc des Princes, a pair of long-term injury problems have seen the 27-year-old confined to the sidelines when PSG have needed him most in each of his two seasons in Paris.
In addition, rumours of dressing room unrest have been rampant, with PSG’s shock collapse at the hands of Manchester United in the Champions League’s last-16 this past season having no doubt seen Thomas Tuchel’s fractious, ego-rampant squad pushed further apart.
And such problems have since led to mounting murmurs in the media over recent weeks, suggesting that Neymar could yet depart the Parc des Princes this summer.
Barcelona, meanwhile, have been increasingly-touted as a possible landing spot.
Reports emerging from Spain of late have suggested that Neymar has set his sights firmly on a return to the Camp Nou, with the fleet-footed wide-man said to be desperate to reunite with close friends Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
Total divorce between PSG and Neymar https://t.co/AKhF3HRUIu
— SPORT English (@Sport_EN) June 11, 2019
Multiple French outlets, including L’Equipe, meanwhile, have added that PSG would not be opposed to allowing the world’s most expensive player to depart over the coming months.
Breaking | Respected L’Équipe journalist @BilelGhazi reports tonight that PSG will sell Neymar this summer if they receive a considerable offer. More follows.
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) June 16, 2019
As such, despite reports of a possible Camp Nou return for Neymar having initially been widely dismissed, such a transfer coming to fruition this summer now does not appear beyond the realms of reality.
Griezmann confirms Atleti departure
The case of Antoine Griezmann, on the other hand, appeared, until recently, to be far more straightforward.
On the back of 5 hugely-successful years on the books of Atletico madrid, Griezmann announced his intention to depart the Wanda Metropolitano last month.
After Atleti released a surprise statement, revealing that their star man had informed the club’s board that he would seek pastures new this summer, Griezmann himself provided a full explanation for his decision in a parting video:
.@AntoGriezmann ha comunicado al club que no seguirá como rojiblanco la próxima temporada.
— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) May 14, 2019
‘It’s been an incredible five years. Thank you very much for everything. I will take you in my heart.’
— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) May 14, 2019
As such, Griezmann’s announcement has since led to inevitable speculation surrounding where the World Cup winner is set to end up next.
Atleti’s La Liga rivals Barcelona have been the club by far the most persistently-tipped as a potential destination, with it having initially been viewed as a near formality that the Blaugrana would simply activate Griezmann’s 125 million Euro release clause.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 14, 2019
The weeks since, though, have surprisingly seen claims begin to mount that Barca could yet pass on the French attacker, amid squad unrest over his potential arrival.
And Blaugrana president Josep Maria Bartomeu poured further cold water on the links between the Spanish champions and Griezmann earlier this week, when he insisted that negotiations between the parties had not yet even begun:
‘We’ve always said it. We’ve never spoken to him. There’s nothing. We’re already seeing how the market is growing these days and weeks.’
This comes despite Atletico CEO Gil Marin having suggested just days before that the Rojiblancos’ crown jewel has long had an agreement in place to make the move to Catalunya:
‘I know exactly where he’s going to play. I’ve known since March. In Barcelona.’
Neymar & Griezmann to Barca?
As per the latest update emerging from Spain this evening, though, Griezmann need not fret over the possibility of his dream Camp Nou switch falling through.
This comes amid claims that Barcelona have incredibly decided to pursue BOTH the World Cup winner and Neymar this summer.
The outlandish statement comes courtesy of Cat Radio, regarded as highly-reliable when it comes to the transfer dealings of the Blaugrana.
Barcelona have decided to go for both Griezmann and Neymar this summer. [cat radio]
— barcacentre (@barcacentre) June 23, 2019
Such a pair of moves would presumably have to be offset by a number of departures from Ernesto Valverde’s squad, though.
Philippe Coutinho appears the most likely to move on, with Frenkie de Jong’s arrival, along with the emergence of Carles Alena, also throwing Rakitic’s future into serious doubt.
The arrivals of either or both of Neymar and Griezmann, meanwhile, would no doubt see Malcom’s time with Barca come to a close.
Umtiti, on the other hand, appears increasingly likely to stay put, following Barca’s alleged dropping of their interest in Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt.
With all of this in mind, below, we take a closer look at how the potential additions of Neymar and Griezmann to Ernesto Valverde’s squad would affect Barca’s line-up for next season.
A number of options are showcased, with Coutinho, Rakitic and Malcom omitted from all potential XI’s.
Luis Suarez is included in just one line-up, with it highly unlikely that Valverde would opt for a side consisting of all of the Uruguayan, Griezmann, Messi and Neymar at once.
As such, with Suarez’s form over the course of the 2018/19 campaign having been erratic at best, and the former Liverpool man now 32, it appears likely that he would stand as the odd man out in a star-studded Blaugrana front-line next season.
Dembele is also only named in one XI, due to the possibility of the Frenchman being sold, or even included as a makeweight in a deal for Neymar.