The Hard Tackle lists three midfielders Barcelona should target to replace Sergio Busquets, who might depart from Camp Nou next summer.
Sergio Busquets has been an extraordinary servant for Barcelona over the years. Such has been his excellence in the middle of the park that he has been the benchmark for holding midfielder for over a decade. But the veteran Spanish international is not the dominant enforcer he was once.
The 34-year-old is a shell of the player he was even three years ago, with age catching up with him. The regression in his performance levels has been sharp, and Busquets seems to be on borrowed time at FC Barcelona. And recent reports have claimed that the Barcelona captain might depart from Spotify Camp Nou next summer.
Busquets is among several veterans the Catalan giants want to move on next summer to oversee a smooth transition to the next generation. So with the veteran midfielder likely playing his final season at Camp Nou, Barcelona will need to lay down a succession plan.
Recent reports have linked Barcelona with several midfielders, but the acquisition of a candidate will depend on their financial health. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle lists three midfielders who Barcelona should target to arrive at Camp Nou to fill Busquets’s impending void.
Let us get the obvious option out of the way first. Ruben Neves seems to be the priority target for Barcelona to replace Sergio Busquets in 2023. Recent reports have claimed that the Catalan giants are one step closer to securing the services of the Portuguese midfielder.
The 25-year-old has already agreed to the wages he will earn at Spotify Camp Nou, with Wolverhampton Wanderers accepting the transfer structure proposed by Barcelona. But the deal has a major stumbling block before it can go through. That is because Barcelona will need to balance the books before bringing in Neves.
A lot can change between now and the time the Catalan giants free up enough space to add Neves’s wages to their books. Hence Barcelona should keep an open mind and consider other options. As for Neves himself, the Blaugrana will be hard-pressed to find a better fit for Xavi Hernandez’s side.
The Portuguese midfielder is adept with the ball at his feet and has a mean shot in him. He has also proven his leadership credentials by succeeding Conor Coady as Wolverhampton Wanderers’ captain this season. So he has the qualities to fill Busquets’s void at Camp Nou. And at 25, Neves has a decade of top-level football in him.
As iterated earlier, Barcelona will have to keep all the options on the table until they succeed in balancing the books. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle has two candidates for the Blaugrana to consider in 2023. The first of these is Bruno Guimaraes.
The Brazilian international has taken no time to establish himself as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. A complete player, Bruno Guimaraes has the ability to sit deep and absorb the pressure from the opposition attack. At the same time, he can push his team forward with a quick tempo.
Newcastle plans for Bruno Guimarães remain very clear and won't change: the club wants to offer him a new long term contract with salary improved, as reported last month. 🚨⚪️⚫️ #NUFC
Many top clubs are interested in signing Bruno in 2023 but Newcastle want to keep him. pic.twitter.com/A93Ly0Tgju
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) October 26, 2022
The 24-year-old also has the confidence to carry the ball deep into the opposition half, making him potentially an upgrade on Busquets. Meanwhile, the Brazilian midfielder also has the instinct to find the back of the net when the opportunity presents itself. So it is no wonder that he has emerged on Real Madrid’s radar.
But signing the Newcastle United talisman will cost Barcelona and Real Madrid a nine-figure sum. In addition, the player has insisted that he is happy and content at St. James’ Park. But while the odds are stacked against Barcelona, Bruno Guimaraes is potentially an ideal candidate to replace Busquets. However, a lot will have to go right for Barcelona to sign the 24-year-old.
The final candidate proposed by The Hard Tackle is a player who often goes under the radar for big clubs. Yet, he has been one of the most consistent midfielders in Europe for a long time. He is also on Barcelona’s radar. We are talking about PSV Eindhoven ace Ibrahim Sangare.
The 24-year-old might not be the most eye-catching name. But he has all the qualities to fill the void that Busquets will eventually create when he leaves Barcelona. The Ivory Coast international is comfortable with the ball at his feet and can also carry the ball forward with purpose.
Ibrahim Sangaré has made more tackles and interceptions combined than any other player in the Eredivisie since the start of last season.
◎ 37 games
◉ 118 tackles made
◉ 84 interceptions
Only four players in Europe's top seven divisions have more. 🧹 pic.twitter.com/CmrulyVd85
— Squawka (@Squawka) October 20, 2022
Sangare also has a mean tackle in him and reads the game strongly. At the same time, he can thread a pass to split the opposition defence and is strong in the air. And his frame makes him appear as another Busquets.
Unlike Neves and Bruno Guimaraes, Sangare will not cost a bomb, even though he has signed a new contract with PSV this year. And at 24, he can offer Barcelona the best years of his career. So it will be interesting to see if he becomes the top target for the Blaugrana ahead of Neves.