The Hard Tackle lists three players Barcelona should target to replace Frenkie de Jong, who could depart from Camp Nou this summer.
Barcelona’s search for the long-term successors of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta has seemed like a never-ending scout mission. Players have come, and players have gone, but the Catalan giants are yet to find themselves players who can fill the massive void left by the departures of the two stalwarts.
Ivan Rakitic had managed to take up Xavi’s position for a few years, but he, too, left a gaping hole behind him in Barcelona’s midfield. Pedri and Frenkie de Jong were supposed to be Barcelona’s big hope to lend balance to the midfield unit. But their financial struggles threaten to destabilise that plan, especially with the up-and-coming Spanish prodigy Gavi yet to agree to a renewal.
Frenkie de Jong is Barcelona’s most valuable asset, which is why the Blaugrana might have to cash in on him to balance the books and fund moves in the summer transfer window. While the Dutch midfielder is not ready to throw away his Barcelona dreams, he might have no choice but to bite the bullet and join another club this summer.
After all, Barcelona’s vice-president of the economic department, Eduard Romeu, recently revealed that the club will need €500 million to overcome the long-dragging financial turmoil. In such a scenario, Barcelona might have no choice but to offload de Jong in the summer transfer window.
The 25-year-old has no shortage of suitors either, with Manchester United his most serious suitor. And with every passing day bringing de Jong closer to the exit door at Camp Nou, Barcelona will have to identify an ideal replacement for their star midfielder. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle looks at three options for Barcelona to consider to replace Frenkie de Jong in the summer transfer window.
The first option on our list probably fits the bill perfectly for Barcelona, considering his experience, potential price tag and suitability. We are talking about Carlos Soler, one of Barcelona’s targets for the summer transfer window.
Reports once even suggested that Barcelona had reached an agreement to sign Soler in a €20 million deal before Valencia quashed the rumours. But with the Spanish international’s contract with Los Che due to run out next year, Barcelona might be able to land him for a fraction of the sum they will likely recoup from de Jong’s sale.
Much like Barcelona, Valencia’s financial health is poor, and they will likely have to cash in on their most valuable assets, including Soler. And with the 25-year-old well-versed with the challenges of playing in La Liga, he might not need much time to settle down at Camp Nou.
Soler also has an eye for a goal while being a near like-to-like replacement for de Jong on the creative side of things. So if the stars align perfectly, Barcelona will not get a better opportunity to replace de Jong with a cost-effective version of the Dutch midfielder.
The next name on our list has previous experience in La Liga, which might be a big positive for Barcelona. This player’s contract situation also fits within Barcelona’s agenda in the summer transfer window. This player is Fabian Ruiz.
Ruiz made his professional debut for Real Betis several years ago and was one of the best midfielders in La Liga before he joined Napoli a few years ago. The Spanish international has since come leaps and bounds, establishing himself as one of the finest playmakers in Europe.
But like Soler, Ruiz will enter the final year of his contract in July, giving Barcelona the impetus to launch the offensive for him in the summer transfer window. But unlike Valencia, Napoli will not be under pressure to sell the Spaniard in the coming weeks, with Aurelio de Laurentiis keen on extending his stay at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
So unless Ruiz pushes for a summer departure, Barcelona will have an uphill task in his pursuit. Another factor working against Barcelona is Real Madrid’s interest in the 26-year-old. But recent reports have claimed that Real Madrid might put off a move for Ruiz until next summer, especially with Luka Modric signing a new contract.
Barcelona will thus need to take advantage of Real Madrid’s stance by jumping the gun this summer instead of waiting for him to become a free agent. Ruiz will also offer Barcelona his peak years, making him a viable alternative to Carlos Soler.
The last name on our list does not tick all the boxes for Barcelona, which is a concern. But no other player can replace de Jong stylistically any better. In fact, Bernardo Silva can perhaps even be an upgrade on the Dutch midfielder at Camp Nou.
The Portuguese international is reportedly keen on joining Barcelona in the summer transfer window, with recent reports claiming he is awaiting an approach from the Blaugrana. But the major stumbling block for Barcelona will be Manchester City’s asking price for Silva.
According to MARCA, Manchester City will demand €100 million for Silva, leaving Barcelona in a spot of bother. With Barcelona selling de Jong solely to raise funds, it makes no sense for them to shell out €100 million to secure the services of his replacement.
One possible solution for Barcelona might be floating the idea of a swap deal, considering de Jong has been on Manchester City’s radar for some time. And while the Catalan giants will not be able to raise funds from de Jong’s sale and replacement in such a scenario, the wage differential will likely benefit them immensely.
But, for all intents and purposes, pursuing either Carlos Soler or Fabian Ruiz will be the ideal option for Barcelona, especially with Real Madrid also interested in Silva. Considering Real Madrid’s financial health is far superior to theirs, Barcelona will face difficulties pursuing Silva unless he pushes to move to Camp Nou.