Fresh from winning five trophies in 2015, the best team in the world can now sign ew players again and this should be a worry for anyone, with an entire calendar year of no arrivals failing to stop Luis Enrique’s blitzkrieg juggernaut from bombing their way through almost anything that attempted to stand in their path.
However financial constraints are certain to restrict the Blaugrana’s activity this winter and yet they could be the side that makes the most interesting, and possibly decisive, moves in January.
Which areas need strengthening?
Luis Enrique wants a striker to act as back-up for Luis Suarez in the centre of his front three.
The reasons for this are two-fold: 1) There isn’t a proven one at the club, and 2) Suarez has played a lot of football over the last few years. If the Uruguayan goes down with injury it could be killer for this side, who have already shown they can survive without Lionel Messi but not yet without their number 9.
Rafinha’s long-term injury may have tempted Barca to dip into the market for a versatile attacking midfielder but Sergi Roberto’s coming-of-age and the fact that Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal can finally play mean we’re unlikely to see that unless another player is ruled out for a significant period.
Vidal’s arrival in particular will be a welcome boost for Barca, who can’t rely on Douglas to back-up Dani Alves on the right side of defence.
Denis Suarez could return to the club on a buyback.
How much money is available?
Not much – which is what makes everything interesting.
Barcelona have limits on what they can spend, agreed at club assemblies when presidents are elected. These are to ensure that the club doesn’t find itself in financial trouble and usually don’t pose a problem but, having won the treble in June, Barca were obliged to pay out a shedload of bonuses.
It is these bonuses that have pushed them over their self-imposed limits, and while they have plenty of time to get back under the red line, they’re looking to address this as soon as possible and won’t be blowing big cash in January.
With not much cash to spend the buzzword has been “Larsson”.
Anyone who can come in and replicate the sort of impact Henrik Larsson had as a cheap, technically-gifted forward who knows their role as a back-up would be absolutely perfect for this team.
Fortunately there are plenty of players in the Autumn of their careers who would fancy a six-month tilt at some of the world’s biggest trophies.
Unfortunately not many will be readily available, so Barca are going to have to work some magic. It may mean loaning out a youngster or two as part of the payment, but you can see a full list of the targets here.
All of those linked in the above piece are realistic, with Jonathan Soriano the most keen to make the move but hardest to prise away from his current club.
Who could be sold?
Barca aren’t blessed with the depth of their archrivals and have already had a season where it has been very much all hands on deck.
They could afford to lose the likes of Douglas, who simply aren’t good enough to play for Barcelona and never have been, but more worrying is the case of Marc Bartra.
The centre-back is looking for more first-team minutes as he hopes to force his way into the Spain team ahead of Euro 2016. Vicente del Bosque doesn’t quite have the same embarrassment of riches in the middle of defence as he does elsewhere in his squad and, with Bartra’s recent change of agent and Premier League clubs monitoring the situation, there remains the chance that he could go.
He’s not a player Barca can afford to lose at this moment, so a compromise needs to be reached.