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How Barcelona has won the transfer market El Clasico

Friday 17th August 2018

The clock is ticking ebulliently towards the closure of 2018’s summer transfer window. In Spain, Barcelona has glided the market’s tide beautifully. The Blaugrana has briskly gone about their business, shaking hands and attaching signatures to documents. Meanwhile, at the capital, Real Madrid is taking things painfully slow. Los Blancos has chosen a rather uncharacteristic, laid-back approach this summer. 

In the last three years, Real Madrid has enjoyed more success than some clubs have in history. Standing behind the long line are Manchester City and Chelsea. Indeed Los Blancos has dominated not just their little corner in Spain but European football as we know it. We aren’t here to discuss Madrid’s success, though. It’s a given that the colossal Spanish outfit cannot rest on its oars. No one wants to do that in football. 

For most football clubs, success stems from how well they can do in the transfer market; in terms of new signings and keeping hold of their core group of players. In that regard, Real has been tardy and lacklustre. Unlike the market bully they are known to be, the Merengues are now associated more with more rumours than closed deals. 

Crossing cities to Catalonia. La Liga’s defending Champion is looking hungrier for more gold. Judging from how they’ve gone about their transfer activity. Barcelona looks ready to reach for the golden fruit of European football. It has been elusive for the last four years. Unlike their perennial rivals, the Catalans have strengthened their squad with adequate reinforcement for almost every department.

There can’t be any juxtaposition between Real Madrid and Barcelona with a prominent mention of El Clasico. This rivalry is the biggest and most watched in football. Usually, the Clasico starts and ends on the football pitch. In that case, Real Madrid has had the upper hand with the most Clasico wins in history (95). For transfers, however, it’s hard to pick a side. Both Real and Barca attract the world’s best players. 

But if we compare both teams in the transfer market this year, it’s the Blaugrana who holds the ace.

Madrid’s signings vs Barca’s signings 

Real has made some expensive signings this year. Los Blancos has spent no less than €120 million in 2018. However, like the Brazilian 17-year-old duo of Flamego’s Vinicius Junior and Santos’s Rodrygo Goes who they signed for a combined €90 million, it’s difficult to understand the rationale behind Madrid’s recent cash splash. None of those teenagers will help The Merengues this season. Let’s not forget the €8.5 million recruitment of 19-year-old Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Lunin.

Madrid has also signed Thibaut Courtois from Chelsea. They parted with €35 million for the goalkeeper. That signing makes some sense. Not the €30 million signing of an unproven right-back in Alvaro Odriozola from Real Sociedad. 

Besides these, Real Madrid hasn’t made any major signings of note. No replacement for the ageing Luka Modric, the lethargic Kareem Benzema or the best player in their history. The same cannot be said be said for Barcelona.

Barca’s 2018 transfer will be highlighted by the capture of Malcom from the jaws of Roma. They spent €41 million on the 21-year-old Brazilian not because they lacked astute wingers, but for depth and strength. 

In midfield, Bayern Munich’s Arturo Vidal and Gremio’s Arthur joined for a combined €50 million. That’s added to already established players such as Ivan Rakitic, Philippe Coutinho, Sergio Busquets and Rafinha who just returned from a successful loan spell at Inter Milan. 

At the rear, Barca has strengthened by signing Clément Lenglet from Sevilla for €35.9 million. Ernesto Valverde has an admirable squad going into the season. 

Madrid’s departures vs Barca’s departures

We can discuss new signings all day but there’s a back door that must be kept tightly shut. Letting key players leave can be far more detrimental than not recruiting. 

The biggest departure of the summer was from Real Madrid. The sale of Cristiano Ronaldo sent shockwaves across Europe. They got €117 million for the 33-year-old striker which seems a bargain. Regardless, they’ve replaced the highly influential player who guarantees at least 30 goals per season with nothing but rumours.

Mateo Kovacic and Achraf Hakimi have both been allowed to go on loan at Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund respectively. There is a replacement for Hakimi but none for Kovacic. A good midfielder who could’ve come into the squad? Omar Mascarell. He too was sold. To Schalke 04.

Barcelona has replaced its departed players well. Yerri Mina was sold to Everton but his place was already filled by Lenglet. So was Paulinho’s, who was loaned back to China’s Guangzhou Evergrande. 

The exit of Andre Gomes (loan to Everton) and Aleix Vidal to Sevilla will not be felt. Neither would Gerard Deulofeu’s to Watford. These players were clearly surplus to requirements. But Lucas Digne’s €20 million sale to Everton might be a bit unwise. It leaves Jordi Alba without a suitable replacement at left back. 

The transfer window doesn’t close in Spain until the end of August which leaves ample time for Real Madrid to make amends.

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Kingsley Ukpai

Kingsley is a football aficionado who craves to read, watch, play and write about the greatest team sport ever known to man. If you're talking football he'll be keen to listen to what you have to say. Loves to play Fantasy Football too.


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