Tagged in: Josep Maria Bartomeu

Barcelona set for big exits due to virus

Lionel Messi, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Frenkie de Jong are the only players safe at Barcelona this summer as the Catalan club predict less spending and more player exchanges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, sources have told ESPN.

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted last month that the club would still be “capable” of landing the game’s best players, but he warned deals could be organized in a very different way after the crisis.

“There is not going to be as much money in the transfer market because of the pandemic,” Bartomeu said. “But I predict that we are going to see a lot more swap deals.”

Barcelona have already committed to two transfers that will be completed in the summer. Forward Francisco Trincao will move to Camp Nou from Braga in a €30 million deal and Las Palmas midfielder Pedri will join for an initial €5m.

However, sources have told ESPN that the club continues to target another attacker and an internal debate has developed over whether it will still be possible to sign Lautaro Martinez or Neymar — or even both — when the window opens.

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There is also a wish to sign a right-back, a centre-back to replace Gerard Pique in the long term and a physical midfielder.

Inter striker Lautaro has a release clause of €111m that becomes active in the first two weeks of July. However, sources say Barca have “no intention” of paying that much. There have already been several meetings with the Serie A side and the possibility of including players to lower the price has been discussed.

Neymar remains Barca’s other big target. A year ago, Barca offered PSG several combinations of cash plus players, with Philippe Coutinho, Ivan Rakitic, Samuel Umtiti, Jean-Clair Todibo and Ousmane Dembele all put forward. PSG rejected the proposals then, but Barca hope they will change their stance this summer with Neymar’s deal up in 2022 and the possibility of the player invoking Article 17 to force an exit unilaterally.

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