Is this team good enough to convince Lionel Messi to stay? Barcelona’s new president Joan Laporta is eyeing Aguero and Wijnaldum in new-look XI with Coutinho and Busquets ousted… as cash-strapped Nou Camp giants eye return to the top of world football
- Joan Laporta claimed a landslide victory in Barcelona’s presidential election
- He is eyeing a return to the top for the side he has previously been president for
- MARCA have put together a possible XI that Barcelona could field next season
- Current Premier League stars Sergio Aguero and Georginio Wijnaldum figure
Joan Laporta’s arrival as the new president at Barcelona has already brought much excitement around the club, and MARCA’s potential starting XI for next season could leave fans further salivating ahead of the new campaign.
The Catalan giants have underwhelmed for large parts of this season despite their recent return to form, and were knocked out of the Champions League in midweek.
But a sense of optimism has returned following former president Laporta’s landslide victory earlier this month ahead of rivals Victor Font and Toni Freixa.
MARCA have suggested a possible Barcelona XI under new president Joan Laporta
Laporta’s main priority remains keeping Lionel Messi but upheaval could be seen in other areas
Barcelona (4-4-2): ter Stegen; Dest, Pique, Garcia/Araujo, Alba; Dembele, de Jong, Wijnaldum/Pedri, Ansu Fati; Messi, Aguero/Depay
Substitutes: Neto, Griezmann, Busquets, Trincao, Riqui Puig, Illaix Moriba, Pjanic, Braithwaite, Umtiti, Junior Firpo, Coutinho, Mingueza, Sergi Roberto
Items on the agenda for the incoming president include trying to convince star man Lionel Messi to stay, but that has not stopped the Spanish outlet from suggesting an upheaval in other areas of the pitch.
The clubs £1billion debt does not appear close to being resolved, but that has not prevented MARCA from suggesting a handful of signings to replace some high-profile names in a team that Laporta could string together if he can manage finances accordingly and sell some high-profile flops.
Having been an ever-present this season, Marc-Andre ter Stegen remains No 1 choice goalkeeper in this possible XI, with the German having signed a new contract at the Camp Nou until 2025 last year.
There is just one change to what Ronald Koeman would currently consider to be his strongest back four, with Eric Garcia coming in to partner Gerard Pique if he completes his expected move on a free transfer from Manchester City in the summer.
Eric Garcia could partner Gerard Pique in central defence as he is expected to leave Man City
The two centre-backs are flanked by current first-choice full-back options Sergino Dest and Jordi Alba, who feature behind wingers Ousmane Dembele and youngster Ansu Fati, despite their issues with form and injury respectively this season.
Leading central midfielder Frenkie de Jong is joined by Liverpool counterpart Georginio Wijnaldum, who is out of contract in the summer and is currently stalling on a new Reds deal and was heavily linked with a move to the Catalan giants in January.
Sergio Aguero – another free agent in June – then partners Argentina team-mate and close friend Messi up front, with Ronald Araujo, Pedri and Memphis Depay suggested as equally viable alternatives to Garcia, Wijnaldum and the current Man City striker.
However, there is no room in the potential XI for a number of key names, including Sergio Busquets, Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann.
Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum is another free transfer who could be signed
The club are believed to want to look past iconic 32-year-old midfielder Busquets, while £142million signing Coutinho has been out since suffering a knee injury in December and failed to fully convince in the first half of the campaign following his loan spell at Bayern Munich last season.
France international Griezmann – signed for £108m from Atletico Madrid in 2019 – meanwhile has scored just six LaLiga goals for Barcelona this season and has failed to find the back of the net in his last nine games.
All three feature on MARCA’s bench for their possible XI but it is caveated with the fact that it will be necessary for Barcelona to sell players this summer in order to ease some of the financial strain on the club.
Barcelona could look to partner Messi with friend Sergio Aguero (left) or Memphis Depay
Perhaps therefore the most surprising omission of all is centre-back Clement Lenglet, who is completely left out of the squad despite making 37 appearances so far this season and signing a new deal until 2026 in October last year.
However, the main doubt concerns whether such an XI next season will be sufficient in convincing Messi to remain at the Camp Nou beyond the end of the season.
The Sun claimed earlier this week the club are preparing crunch talks with the 33-year-old Argentina star, who wants assurances from Laporta that Barca can compete in the transfer market this summer before committing his future to the club.
Sergio Busquets (left) and Antoine Griezmann (right) are some of the high-profile omissions from the XI
The election of Laporta – who Messi is said to have voted for – has improved Barca’s chances of holding on to their captain, whose contract at the club he has been with since the age of 15 expires in the summer.
The report also detailed that Barca are considering a swoop for Aguero – a close friend and international team-mate of Messi’s – to persuade their star man to stay.
Sportsmail reported on Thursday that Aguero fears his Manchester City career is being allowed to fizzle out and is frustrated by a lack of clarity around his future.
But while the club negotiate a restructuring of their finances with Goldman Sachs, improving their dire monetary situation remains their priority over incomings.
Philippe Coutinho (right) is also absent while centre-back Clement Lenglet (left) is left out altogether
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