A debilitating 4-0 loss in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals may have accelerated big changes for Barcelona.
Injuries and overall fatigue played a huge role in the Catalans crushing defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich a week ago, and the likelihood of a comeback Wednesday in the second leg appears unlikley.
The loss also showed glaring needs on both sides of the pitch and, according to Marca, Barcelona has revved up their interest for quick-striking Neymar da Silva of Santos, and defender Mats Hummels of Champions League final-bound Borussia Dortmund.
Although Santos and Neymar have insisted he will fulfill his current contract, which expires in 2014, the Catalans are also determined to maintain their recent dominance, and pair the Brazilian sensation with Lionel Messi as early as next season.
Barcelona vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu publicly stated in February the club will bid for the 21-year-old.
“He's a player wanted by the technical team,” Bartomeu said according to The Daily Mail. “When he says he wants to leave Santos, the club will be there to try and sign him. “He is wanted by half of the world.'
Santos is hesitant to move Neymar ahead of the 2014 World Cup to be hosted by Brazil, but the opportunity for selling the player for a whopping £55 million could change their mind.
While Neymar has been on Barcelona’s radar for quite some time, the club’s interest in Hummels has grown over the last two months. The 24-year-old defender played a huge role in Dortmund’s defense shutting down the potent Real Madrid attack in the Champions League semifinals, and teams like Manchester City and Manchester United have also shown interest.
Veteran defender Carles Puyol’s battle with knee injuries after three surgeries have left his career in doubt, and Hummels could step right in if the Catalans are willing to pay a £21 million fee.
With an expected bill of over £70 million to complete the facelift and continue a streak of six consecutive Champions League semi-finals berths, Barcelona could sell Cesc Fabregas back to Arsenal, according to The Daily Star.
Fabregas sat out the loss to Bayern, and his playing time outside of La Liga matches has been scarce since Barcelona signed him away from Arsenal in 2011. The Spanish native also fueled speculation he wanted out of the Nou Camp by purchasing a £5.4 million flat in London, as reported by the Star.
After two seasons with Barcelona, Fabregas has made 84 starts, scoring 32 goals and notching 24 assists. The 25-year-old began his youth career with Barcelona, but gained his status as one of the top midfielders in the world during his eight seasons at the Emirates. In 212 appearances, Fabregas totaled 35 goals for Arsenal.