This is going to be a different season for Barcelona. In the last campaign, the squad was basically healthy for the entire year, with very few injuries to work with that didn’t affect the team. Luis Enrique was able to rotate the group with very little trouble, and that led to a Treble.
It’s a completely different story this season. Over half of the squad have sustained injuries, and the current list includes giant names like Lionel Messi and Andrés Iniesta, along with key members like Rafinha and Claudio Bravo. FCB also sold Pedro Rodríguez over the summer, and that decision has been haunting the club since then. New signings Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal will bring back the desired depth to the squad once they’re free to join the team in January, but it looks as though the Blaugrana club is set to make anoher signing(s) in the following transfer window.
And, as sources told Barça Blaugranes, they have narrowed down all the rumored possibilities to this shortlist:
Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia)
The 23-year-old World Cup winner has been very solid at the back since joining The Bats and the Spanish League, and although he has suffered a little along with the whole team, things are looking better for the València side, and the German is returning to his usual form. His ability and versatility to play both as a center-back and on the right flank attract coach Luis Enrique, and although the defense is the most loaded position on the squad, it’s not bad to have more options.
Ilkay Gündogan (Borussia Dortmund)
The dream signing that every Culé wants looks more and more like a real possibility: the German midfielder is the perfect fit for every need Barça have in the position, and he will add more depth (and skills) to a key component of the Blaugrana style of play. The 24-year-old will likely cost a hefty sum, but the investment is certainly worth it.
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
It did look like a crazy rumor, but it’s been gaining some traction and important people in the club appear to be on board with the decision of going after the Brazilian star. The 23-year-old has been improving with every season in the Premier League, and he can work both as a winger and a midfielder because of his talent and ability to adapt. Like Gündogan, he’ll cost plenty of money, and Barça will likely go after only one of them.
Nolito (Celta Vigo)
Since Pedro left, Barça badly needs a true backup to ‘MSN’. Munir El-Haddadi has been playing well of late, and Sandro Ramírez certainly gives his all. But they’re not as talented or experienced as Pedrito was, and it’s hard to rely solely on them. After destroying Barça almost by himself last week, former Blaugrana Nolito, who has been heavily linked with a return to Catalonia, is definitely a target for January, and his signing looks more and more like a foregone conclusion at this point.