Nothing has appeared unattainable at Camp Nou this summer as Barcelona wishes to chalk up last year’s disappointing third-place finish in La Liga and early exit from Champions League as anomalies rather than signs of a decline. So they provided the biggest shock in an otherwise tame summer transfer session, and snatched Luis Suarez out of Liverpool for a reported £75 million. Next, they plopped down more than £33 million for attacking midfielder Ivan Rakitic, and added veteran defender Jeremy Mathieu, who was a solid contributor for Valencia. Yet the Catalans still weren’t finished, with former Arsenal central defender Thomas Vermaelen the latest to join up for a cool £15 million just last week.
Now news has spread that Barcelona and new manager Luis Enrique are interested in bolstering the squad with Fiorentina winger Juan Cuadrado. The Guardian reports that even during Vermaelen’s introductory press conference on Sunday, Catalans sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta hinted more moves could be in the mix.
“With the addition of Thomas we completed a defensive line of a very high level. There are options that we are working on for the exit of some players, as such we’re not discarding so that others could come in,” Zubizarreta said. “What I can say is that at midnight on 31 August we hope to have the best squad possible. Even though we are very happy with the players that we have if there is a chance to improve it, we will try.
“Until the 1st or 2nd [of September], when we talk about the market being closed, anything could happen.”
Zubizarreta didn’t mention any players by name, but numerous reports this summer have linked Cuadrado for a switch to either Barcelona or Manchester United. Fiorentina’s reported demands have fluctuated from low as £25 million to as much as £36 million for the 26-year-old Colombian responsible for 16 goals in the two years he’s called Florence home. Cuadrado also totaled 11 assists with Fiorentina and its likely Enrique would slot him along either wing to feed Lionel Messi or Suarez, with Neymar also lying in wait for a good ball. A report from Metro, however, cites news out of Spain that Barcelona have “dropped out” of the running for Cuadrado, with Enrique apparently turning his attention to 24-year-old Sao Paulo right back Douglas. Since 2012 Douglas has totaled 33 appearances and scored two goals for the Brazilian side after spending his youth career with Goias. He’s also never played out side of his home country.
It’s unclear if Barcelona have truly pulled out of the running for Cuadrado, but the departure of defensive midfielder Alex Song does seem imminent. According to Express the 26-year-old is keeping offers from AC Milan and Inter on the shelf while hoping United will swoop in. With Vermaelen and Mathieu’s arrival, Song is likely to struggle for pitch time this coming term, and the former Arsenal star reportedly believes that switching back to the Premier League would better fit his style of play. Unfortunately for Song, most still remember his premature exit from Cameroon’s World Cup run after infamously punching Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic in the back.
His uncharacteristic lash out aside, Song is still one of the better players at his position in Europe and he’s still in his prime. Song's market value has dropped slightly to £12 million and he is under contract until 2017, but Barcelona aren’t likely to haggle too much for an exorbitant fee.