Barcelona will sign in January and the club want to arrive on an agreement with Luis Enrique to add an attacking footballer who can help in the final phases of the season, but his cost would not be a loss for the football club. Technical secretary Robert Fernandez has almost 20 options on his list, and has started a first screening of names that do not convince the coach, or who might not be the right profile to reinforce the squad.
Two of the men on the list are Dirk Kuyt, Feyenoord’s Dutch striker, who has passed the first test, and Alexandre Pato, Brazilian at Sao Paulo, who there is no consensus over but is still on the table.
The work is arduous, as Luis Enrique wants Nolito at all costs. The club have convinced him that the deal will cost too much. Robert has studied the market thoroughly to try and convince the coach with a cheap attacker. They have had several exchanges of views and some meetings. Mid-November they will discard some of the options and will choose the candidate, so they can negotiate quickly.
The list is not closed, and Barcelona are receiving interesting offers from players that want to play at the Camp Nou. Some of the names are being saved for the summer market, with Barcelona just looking for a “patch” that can acclimatise quickly and will take a back-up role, offering quality when needed.
One of the players who fits the profile is Dirk Kuyt, 35. The Dutchman decided to return to Feyernoord, the club of his life, to end his career. But he has 10 goals in 10 games and is likely to be called up by the national team. This second youth, his physical condition, his experience and his combative character on the pitch has not gone unnoticed by Barca technicians.
Kuyt can play in all the attacking positions and unbalances defences with speed and technique. He can score too, something the team are looking for in an attacker. it seems the main problem is that the Dutchman loves playing for his favourite club and doesn’t have too much interest in changing clubs – but Barcelona would be a badge of gold in a great career. What’s clear is that the economic conditions would work for Barcelona.
Pato, meanwhile, has been offered to Barcelona, and Robert has noted his rejuvenation in Brazil. The 26-year-old is very experienced. He left Milan for Corinthians but did not settle and was loaned to Sao Paulo. There he demonstrated he’s still got a lot of talent. He has 24 goals in 47 games and various European sides want to bring him back to the continent.
Pato would cost around €7m and the player is enthusiastic at the idea of playing for the club. He has a good relationship with Neymar and his talent is undoubted. The name was on the list Robert gave Lucho, but the coach is not convinced over his characterstics. Pato is used to playing in the centre and not the wings, and his football doesn’t work with a combination game – he likes having more space. For now, his name is close to being ruled out, but we’ll have to wait 15 days to find out.
Lucho and Robert usually meet each week in the training centre and the technical secretary puts him abreast of your travels and efforts. Nevertheless, the two will hold a summit in November next league break to accelerate the process of signing. They will agree on two or three names and pass them to the board for a final decision. If it’s OK on all fronts, Barcelona will work hard to get the signing sealed by early December, so they can play as soon as possible. Depending on who it is, they may be able to join training immediately, to get up to speed before they can play in January – along with Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal.
Nolito was Luis Enrique’s priority, because he knows him as a footballer and his adaptation would be minimal, but Lucho understands the conditions the club has and that the forward wouldn’t be used much anyway when the trident is fit. Nolito was ready to move, but for various sporing and, mainly, economic reasons he doesn’t look like he’s coming to Barcelona.