3 midfielders Barcelona should look to sign
Just like that, Barcelona went from possessing Europe's best midfield to woefully lacking talent in that department. Andres Iniesta is in Japan, which was anticipated. Paulinho has returned to China, which was not. Lionel Messi must continue to do a Wayne Rooney out of necessity. He will drop deep to do the midfield's work.
It was inevitable. Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez are nigh irreplaceable. Efforts to replace the pair could have been better, however, especially in Xavi's case. Iniesta's successor is Philippe Coutinho, who arrived six months late. The club hasn't found a new heart since Xavi departed. Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez simply aren't at Barcelona's level.
The midfield looked slightly better under new manager Ernesto Valverde last season. Sergio Busquets held down the base in midfield again. Ivan Rakitic was stellar at times. Paulinho's efficacy surprised. Denis Suarez and Andre Gomes filled the numbers when their betters were injured or needed rest. The former came on at season's end. Meanwhile, Iniesta went out in style. He was better than the previous season under Luis Enrique. Coutinho also hit the ground running.
But now, Paulinho and Iniesta are gone. Academy star Carlos Alena is injured. New signing Arthur Melo is an immensely talented player and an upgrade to Denis and Andre Gomes. The question is whether he is ready to start? Another possession-heavy midfielder is needed.
Watch Croatia in the World Cup and you see Rakitic comfortable on the left, shifting between a deep-lying and an advanced position as circumstances warrant. His best use is in tandem with Coutinho at the Camp Nou. Barca could use a Luka Modric on the right to complement Rakitic. Messi is more valuable in the final third.
Miralem Pjanic's deal seems to be off. Frankie De Jong is likely to join next summer. he is another long-term project.
Here are three players who can help now.