With several midfielders likely to leave Barcelona, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the team brought in a replacement or two this summer.
The veteran duo of Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitić will probably move on and part ways with the Catalans, as well as the on-loan Philippe Coutinho…that is, if they can find someone who can afford the Brazilian.
And while Arthur, Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets will continue playing key roles for the Blaugrana, more midfield depth will definitely be needed. Any possible signing will need to both dictate, and win back possession in the middle, as well as being mobile enough to support his teammates defensively and offensively.
With that all said, here’s a list of six centre-midfielders Barça could and should realistically target when the transfer window opens…
The safest option on the list, having previously played under Quique Setién at Real Betis, Ruiz would be a great fit at Camp Nou.
A left-footed midfielder versatile enough to play in an advanced or withdrawn role, the 24-year-old can be relied upon to create openings for his teammates. The Napoli man has superb passing skills, and his strengths would compliment both Arthur and De Jong hugely.
Only Inter’s Marcelo Brozović has made more passes than him during the 2019/20 Serie A campaign, and while he’s often played as the holding midfielder for Gli Azzurri, he’s thrived higher up the pitch too, with three goals and six assists in his final season playing for Los Verdiblancos.
It will be a fierce battle to land the Spanish international, with the likes of Real Madrid and Liverpool also said to be interested in signing him. Yet the possibility of reuniting with Setién will give La Blaugrana a major advantage in any bidding war for Ruiz.
Potential Price: £45m – £60m
Having underwhelmed many Spurs fans this season, it might surprise them to hear Ndombele has been linked with a move to Barça.
Yet the Frenchman did make an impressive start early on in the season, with two goals in his first five games for the club. Given that he’d only scored once for Lyon during the previous campaign, he looked primed to take his game to another level.
Still only 23 years old, he’s a physical force in midfield and can use his pace to break the lines during a counter-attack. While his focus at times has been criticised, there’s still plenty to like about his game, and how much he can improve further.
With José Mourinho clearly not a fan of his, Spurs may need to cash in and sell Ndombele this summer, in order to raise funds for additions of their own. And the Spanish champions could benefit hugely, by adding a strong presence in the middle.
Potential Price: £40m – £55m
Staying with the Premier League, here’s another French midfielder that would add plenty to the Catalans. They couldn’t go wrong at all, by adding the world’s best defensive midfielder.
What more is there to say about how good Kanté is, that hasn’t already been mentioned? He’s exceptional at winning the ball back, and has constantly shown his intelligence, in knowing when to step forward, and make a vital interception for his team.
And having recently played in a box-to-box role for Chelsea, the 29-year-old would be a willing runner to support his attackers, and is also a fantastic player to have in launching a quick counter-attack for the likes of Messi and Suárez.
90min has already been informed that the Blues are willing to part ways with him at the right price, and Real Madrid are already rumoured to be lining up a bid for the two-time Premier League champion. But don’t rule out La Blaugrana from moving to hijack their La Liga rival’s plans, and snatch Kanté from their grasp.
Potential Price: £70m – £90m
Having made only seven league starts for Bayern Munich this season, with five coming under former boss Niko Kovač earlier in the season, Tolisso could be available this summer, and would be a great signing for the Spanish champions.
While he can play in a defensive role, the Frenchman’s best displays have come when he’s given the freedom to push into the attacking third. It allows him to use his ball distribution abilities to create chances for his teammates, while also giving him the opportunity to score himself.
In just three Champions League appearances this season, he’s racked up an impressive two goals and three assists for Die Roten, with a pass completion rate of 89%. That’s an indicator of what he could become for Setién, which would be perfect for the manager’s possession-based style.
With the club and player both claimed to be happy to part ways in the summer, the Catalans could find themselves with a superb addition for their midfield.
Potential Price: £25m – £45m
While Toulouse have had a horrendous season at the bottom of Ligue 1, Sangaré’s performances has been a shining exception for the club.
His defensive work has been excellent, while also showing off his long-range passing that springs a quick transition to attack for Les Violets. While he’s still got much to develop, chiefly in his decision-making, the Ivorian has shown huge potential to become a world-class midfielder for the future.
The 22-year-old has made the third-highest number of tackles in the French top-flight this season, and is also comfortable in possession, which will appeal to the La Liga champions.
What will also stand out is that Sangaré will not command a huge fee, and with Toulouse pretty much relegated to Ligue 2, he could be a bargain for La Blaugrana.
Potential Price: £10m – £20m
The option who’s geographically the closest to Camp Nou, Merino has had a fine season for Real Sociedad.
Visibly improved since his time at Newcastle, the Spaniard has been key in creating attacking moves from within his own half, and he’s been solid defensively as well for La Real.
The 23-year-old ranks in the top seven for tackles, interceptions and passes among all central midfielders in La Liga, underlying how he’s developed into a more complete midfielder.
Sociedad would be hate to lose Merino, who’s been a key part of their top-four push this season. But having developed into a major talent in Spain, it’s only a matter of time before a bigger team comes calling, and Barça would certainly be happy to take him before anyone else does.
Potential Price: £15m – £25m