Barcelona set for a summer of change
Whatever happens in the final weeks of the La Liga season, Barcelona are set for a major summer of change.
The Catalans are pushing Real Madrid all the way but Los Blancos remain favourites thanks to their game in hand. Despite the fact they are level on points.
Luis Enrique has already announced his departure from Barcelona at the end of the season.
Valverde to replace Enrique?
As it stands, Ernesto Valverde is the favourite to take over from Enrique, but there are several candidates in the mix.
Despite the uncertainty of who will coach Barcelona in 2017/2018, the club are planning for the summer transfer market.
On Thursday, Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo have published Barcelona’s five main targets for this summer:
Bellerin, Hernandez, Verratti, Coutinho & Delofeu
In worrying news for Arsenal fans, Hector Bellerin is now Barcelona’s main summer transfer target.
The Spanish right back is seen as the long term replacement for Dani Alves, who Barcelona failed to properly replace last summer.
Sergi Roberto has mainly played at right back this season for Barcelona, but is expected to return to midfield from 2017/2018.
Barcelona are also confident that they can sign Bellerin thanks to the current upheaval at Arsenal.
Two new full backs for Barcelona?
Besides Bellerin, Barcelona have already targeted Theo Hernandez, the left back, who has been at Alaves this season, on loan from Atletico Madrid.
A host of clubs are keen on Hernandez, including Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool.
Hernandez has a release clause of 24 million euros at Atletico and reportedly wants to play for Barcelona.
However, the proposal to Hernandez from Barcelona is currently far short of what Real Madrid and Bayern Munich would pay.
The long term replacement for Andres Iniesta?
If Barcelona can secure their full back positions and with their current strike force still the best on the planet, the big question is who can replace Andres Iniesta?
The Spanish playmaker is expected to sign a one-year extension at Barcelona but the Catalans are keen for a long term replacement.
According to Mundo Deportivo, it is a straight battle between Marco Verratti and Phil Coutinho.
Either midfield star would be a very expensive and complicated signing for Barcelona whilst Verratti is considered more of a defensive player than the “fantasy” of Coutinho.
Gerard Deulofeu is a certainty
Of the five summer transfer targets, the definite arrival is considered to be Gerard Deulofeu from Everton, currently on loan from AC Milan.
After impressing for both the Rossoneri and Spain, Deulofeu can be bought back by Barcelona for just 12 million euros this summer.
There are suggestions that Deulofeu is keen to stay at AC Milan and play regularly ahead of the World Cup. But Barcelona’s option is too cheap for them to at least not buy him back and then assess their former winger in the summer.
The front page of Mundo Deportivo on Thursday