FIFA’s temporary lift of Barcelona’s transfer ban has given Camp Nou a glimmer of hope of rebuilding a squad that’s crumbled one year after dominating La Liga.
Lionel Messi and the Catalans decisively claimed La Liga by 15 points last term, but an aging back line and injuries sustained by the Argentine have Barcelona seven points back of first and a second straight title highly unlikely.
Barcelona faced a transfer ban of 14 months due to allegations of unfair practices while signing players under the age of 18, yet FIFA conceded that a full and proper investigation would run well past the start of the transfer session on July 1. Thusly the Catalans can sign at least sign new players this summer.
Clubs hoping to do business with Barcelona likely understand the Catalans will do everything they can to secure as many players as possible this summer before FIFA reaches its final decision. So Barcelona could find itself with far less negotiating leverage than in years past.
Barcelona could start with a splash with several reports indicating a top line move for Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil to the tune of a £30 million fee, according Talk Sport.
Ozil is only a year removed from his £42.5 million transfer from Real Madrid, but he’s been plagued by injury and questions about his overall fitness since the turn of the Premier League season.
Talk Sport quoted expert Paul Breen-Turner as saying Barcelona are serious about brining Ozil back to Spain, but the Gunners might not even entertain the offer.
Ozil could very well slot in for 36-year-old Xavi, or even Cesc Fabregas who has been tied to moves back to the Premier League with another fallen champion, Manchester United.
Barcelona’s back line is the one part of the lineup that will likely see significant change this summer. The Catalans long transfer wish list included some of the best young defenders in the world, as reported by Spanish outlet Marca earlier this week.
A barracks load of new center-backs could litter Camp Nou this summer, including Basel’s Fabian Schar, Real Sociedad’s Ingo Martinez, Villareal’s Mateo Musacchio, Athletic Bilbao’s Aymeric Laporte and Chelsea’s David Luiz.
Schar, 22, represents the best mix of experience for his age and the right price. The Catalans would have to at least meet Schar’s market value of £6.5 million.
Another reported option is Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen, a 27-year-old Belgian also being pursued by Serie A’s Roma as well as Zenit St. Petersburg, according to Daily Mirror.
Spurs, who are also in danger of losing top keeper Hugo Lloris, have no desire to sell Vertonghen but the player has a desire to play in Champions League.
After beginning his professional career with Ajax in 2006, Vertonghen has spent the last two seasons at White Hart Lane earning 50 appearances and four goals. He also owns 54 caps and four goals for Belgium’s national first-team.
Vertonghen will likely cost somewhere around £18 million, and his current contract runs until 2016.