Despite still having much to play for at the climax of the season, Barcelona are already actively preparing to strengthen their squad this summer.
Barcelona’s reclaiming of the league title looks all-but certain, while they have also reached a record sixth straight Champions League semifinal. Yet, their performances have dipped from the unparalleled level reached by the team in recent seasons.
And it appears that the club is eager to try and prevent any decline and will sanction a €50 million transfer kitty this summer in addition to whatever money is raised from player departures, according to Marca.
The Spanish publication reports that Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova has targeted three positions he wants to strengthen: goalkeeper, central defender and forward.
The identity of the player at the top of Barcelona’s wanted list to fulfill the last of those requirements is well known, with the Blaugrana having been linked to Brazilian star Neymar almost since he first burst onto the scene with Santos.
Both player and his club have continued to insist that he will not head for Europe until the end of his contract, which coincides with Brazil’s hosting of the 2014 World Cup, but there appears growing momentum behind a move this summer. Andre Cury, an agent who often conducts business for Barcelona in South America, claimed this week that the club would try to procure Neymar at the end of the season.
Goal.com has also reported that Neymar will visit Barcelona in July to hold talks with the club. The player himself, though, has reiterated that he will see out his contract.
While a quality forward to take some of the focus away from Lionel Messi would undoubtedly help the side, another much needed addition is a central defender.
The club made what now looks a significant blunder last summer by not signing and established player in that position and instead recruiting midfielder Alex Song, who the club believed could at least fill in at the back as Javier Mascherano has largely successfully done. But that move has not worked out, so much so that, with Carles Puyol and Mascherano unavailable against Paris Saint-Germain, attacking full-back Adriano was selected alongside Gerard Pique in the middle.
It is widely expected that Barcelona will correct that negligence this summer, with Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels believed to be their number one target.
The Germany international would undoubtedly be a quality addition and also has the acumen on the ball to adapt to Barcelona’s ultimate possession-based approach. Marca reports that the 24-year-old is currently valued at between €20 million and €25 million.
Despite reports elsewhere and comments from Barcelona vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu that Victor Valdes will see out his contract until 2014, Marca also states that Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita is on the club’s wanted list.
The 26-year-old came up through the ranks with Valencia and has made nine appearances in La Liga this season as he vies for the No 1 spot with Diego Alves.
According to Spanish publication AS, also under consideration by Barcelona is Borussia Monchengladbach’s highly rated stopper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Despite being just 20-years-old, Stegen has already made his debut for the Germany senior side.