Barcelona will have to look for alternatives to Erling Haaland. Here are three options for the Blaugrana to target instead of the Norwegian ace.
The 2022 summer transfer window will be a crucial period for Barcelona. With their financial woes gradually easing, the Blaugrana could have some funds to bolster the first-team setup at Camp Nou, albeit if they manage to manoeuvre the personnel efficiently.
One of the key areas for Barcelona to reinforce ahead of the 2022/23 season will be the offensive unit. While they have added six attacking players since last summer, a closer look reveals why the Catalan giants will have to continue splurging on forwards in the next window.
Sergio Aguero retired mere months after joining Barcelona on a Bosman move, while Luuk de Jong will return to Sevilla once his loan deal expires. At the same time, Memphis Depay faces an uncertain future in Barcelona, while there are no guarantees that Adama Traore will join the Blaugrana permanently in the summer transfer window.
Such a situation leaves Barcelona in a weird predicament, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the only striker likely to be left at Xavi Hernandez’s disposal in the summer transfer window. With Ousmane Dembele’s future up in the air, there is a feeling that Barcelona’s offensive unit could be lightweight despite their recent exploits.
Bolstering the attack is thus a key objective for Barcelona, especially by signing a top-class striker. And widespread reports claimed that the Catalan giants have prioritised landing Erling Haaland for a long time. But with Real Madrid and Manchester City capable of offering a more lucrative contract to the Norwegian striker, Barcelona’s pursuit has ceased.
The La Liga heavyweights must quickly set their sights on alternatives, with just a few more months left for the summer transfer window. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle looks at three alternate options for Barcelona to consider after setting their sights away from Erling Haaland.
The first alternative is arguably the best striker in Europe at the moment. So, in essence, this player could even be an upgrade on Erling Haaland, albeit only for a short period, considering he is approaching the final phase of his career. We are, of course, talking about Robert Lewandowski.
The Pole has been in a league of his own in the last few years, despite the heroics of other top-class strikers like Real Madrid talisman Karim Benzema, Tottenham Hotspur ace Harry Kane, and Erling Haaland. Lewandowski has been breaking records for fun lately and looks on course to shatter the bar he set himself last season in Bundesliga.
Suffice to say, the 33-year-old has hardly been showing signs of age catching up with him and looks like he could be going the Zlatan Ibrahimovic way rather than that of a former Barcelona striker, Luis Suarez. And the Bayern Munich talisman has invariably popped up on Barcelona’s radar over a possible summer.
The problem for Barcelona is that Lewandowski is a target for several other high profile clubs across Europe, including arch-rivals Real Madrid. The Merengues will indeed need to draw up a list of alternatives themselves if Haaland ends up joining Manchester City. So an El Clasico off the field between Barcelona and Real Madrid could be on the cards.
But if Barcelona can get a clear run at Lewandowski, signing the Pole could be a cost-effective affair. That is because the veteran striker is at odds with Bayern Munich over the terms of a new contract. And with his current deal expiring in a little over a year, Lewandowski could depart the Allianz Arena in the summer, with Barcelona (or Real Madrid for that matter) a likely destination.
The next name on our list features a player who has been tremendously growing in stature this term. Interestingly, this striker played a key role in Barcelona’s ouster from the UEFA Champions League, scoring a match-winning brace to help his team qualify for the Round of 16. This forward is Darwin Nunez.
The Uruguayan striker has come leaps and bounds in the last 18 months, going from strength to strength at Benfica. Nunez is enjoying the most productive season of his budding career, and it is only a matter of time before he takes the next step in his career by joining a European bigwig.
The 22-year-old has unsurprisingly been linked with Barcelona, but the Blaugrana will have a major stumbling block to overcome. Recent reports have claimed that Barcelona will have to shell out around €80 million to prise Nunez away from Benfica. That could be a steep amount for the Catalan giants, and their aspirations of signing the young striker could be fading.
Not to mention, Nunez, like Lewandowski, is a target for several other high profile clubs in Europe, thereby adding to the task at hand for Barcelona. But as they showed with their pursuit of Ferran Torres, they are not afraid of going over the top to sign one key target in a transfer window. That said, they will need to manoeuvre the funds to land Nunez carefully.
The last name on our list might come as a surprise to many. After all, several strikers, including Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Lautaro Martinez, have been linked with Barcelona. And Marcus Rashford is not even a like-for-like alternative to Haaland. But the Manchester United forward could be the most approachable of possible Barcelona targets in the summer.
Rashford faces an uncertain future at Manchester United in the wake of recent rumours pointing towards him considering his place in the first-team setup at Old Trafford. And while the English international comes off as someone who tends to fight for his spot, the possibility of leaving Manchester United is increasing by the day.
Interestingly, Barcelona might also have to battle Real Madrid in pursuit of Rashford. But with several other targets well ahead of Rashford in Real Madrid’s pecking order, Barcelona could have a relatively clearer run at the Manchester United forward.
It is fair to say that Rashford is not a like-for-like alternative for Haaland. But it is also worth noting that the 24-year-old started his career as a striker and is still young enough to be moulded into the role. And with Barcelona playing a fluid brand of football under Xavi Hernandez, Rashford could fit in well alongside players like Ferran Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ansu Fati.