- Despite not being a pure 9, Xavi likes him for his versatility, in addition to guaranteeing a minimum of 30 goals per course.
Joan Laporta has promised Xavi Hernández that next season he will have a top striker in the squad. The absolute priority continues to be the Norwegian Erling Haaland, although the president’s latest statements could leave a shadow of doubt about the viability of the operation.
To this day, Haaland is still considered a strategic signing to champion the project for the next decade, the piece of goldsmithing that is missing to build the building where Xavi’s Barça will be sustained. But the problem with the Dortmund striker is that he has other ‘girlfriends’ pressing very hard, especially Manchester City. In fact, from the Blaugrana club they openly admit that the ‘citizens’ have been ahead of the rest and that, today, they start with a slight advantage. However, Laporta has not yet said the last word: apart from his very good relationship with his agent, Mino Raiola, he has other intangibles, such as the city itself -there is no point of comparison between living in Barcelona or Manchester- or that the Barcelona is a generator of Ballon d’Or, something that City cannot say the same, since they have not yet had a Ballon d’Or in their ranks.
But Laporta also has an ace up his sleeve in the event that Haaland ends up opting for City. And it is that, as AS has learned, plan B if the Norwegian does not come as a ‘pharaonic’ name and surname: Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian forward of Liverpool would be the priority alternative of the FC Barcelona. Both Xavi and the technical secretariat consider the Liverpool attacker to be the ideal player to complete the new attack in the event that Haaland does not arrive. Although it is true that it is not strictly a 9, it is also true that it guarantees a minimum of 30 goals per season, in addition to possessing enormous versatility and versatility in attack, as it operates in various positions on the field, starting from the right-wing.
Barcelona would be willing to make a very strong bet on Salah. And it is that at 29 years old, he still has three or four years of high-level football. The striker, who since December has been giving Liverpool a long time about his renewal, ends his contract on June 30, 2023, so Barcelona could ‘fish’ in a troubled river. The amounts that are considered would be much lower than those of Haaland: between 60 and 70 million to Liverpool, taking into account that next year it could be free, and another 100 in chips for the next four seasons.
The presence of Salah in the attack would lead to a dream trident with Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati as great drivers, and with Aubameyang, Adama Traoré, Abde, and Jutglà as luxury accessories. The future of Dembélé, Memphis, Braithwaite, and Luuk also remain to be seen. In any case, the first three have all the numbers to leave the club, while the Dutch striker from Sevilla could have the option to extend his loan for another year.
As this newspaper has been able to learn, Barcelona has already received the first positive ‘inputs’ from the player’s entourage, who would welcome a change of scenery -he has been at Liverpool for five seasons-, and even more so entering the Xavi Hernández project as the new franchise player. It must be remembered that the same coach confirmed that they had not yet received any refusal among the players surveyed. In any case, the club has asked the ‘red’ star for a little more time, although he is aware that it cannot take much longer than April.
In fact, the signing of the Egyptian would not definitively close the doors to the Norwegian: Raiola is in favor of short contracts, at most three or four seasons, so Barcelona could address his hiring in the future when Salah and Aubameyang are in the final stretch of his career.
Plan C… and D
There is also a plan C, if the other two fail, which Xavi likes a lot: Bayern Munich’s Polish striker, Robert Lewandowski. It is a true ‘predator’ of the area, although it is considered that his journey would be very short-term, at most two years, since in August he will be 34 years old. In any case, this operation is assumed in the club as very complicated, especially since there is the certainty that PSG would also be behind the international.
And the last option that is liked in the technical secretariat, but further away than the rest, is Chelsea’s Belgian attacker, Romelu Lukaku (28 years old). He is valued as an old-fashioned 9, a pure-blooded killer, although in his case, everything would depend on how the situation of the English club ends up being managed in the medium term. The international has a contract until 2026 and they would only open the doors to him if a completely unsustainable situation ends up taking place.
Be that as it may, right now in the technical secretariat only four candidates are being considered to reinforce the attack and all of them are of a ‘top-level: Haaland, Salah, Lewandowski, or Lukaku. The rest of the names that have come out