Barcelona are fresh off the disappointment of seeing La Liga go to bitter rivals Madrid, and exiting Champions League in humiliating fashion at the hands of Juventus. They're looking to bounce back in a big way this summer, and that means bringing in reinforcements. They've already replaced manager Luis Enrique with former Athletic Club manager Ernesto Valverde, and now they're looking to strengthen their playing staff as well.
Sporting director Robert Fernandez has pledged to bolster the squad's ranks, and told the club's official magazine: "We have a lot of information and there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes.
"It goes without saying that we'll bolster the squad in the positions we need and that they'll be big-name signings."
What sort of players should Barcelona be targeting this summer?
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Midfield and right fullback were the biggest points of weakness for Barcelona this season. The problem looked to have been solved with Aleix Vidal's promising play, but his injury quickly derailed those plans. Now, with a new season ahead, it's time for them to address the glaring need they have and find the player who's going to take them forward in that position. Former Barcelona youth player Hector Bellerin appears to be the best, if most expensive, option, and the 22-year-old Arsenal defender is reportedly more than a little interested in returning to Spain. Arsenal's continued unwillingness to let him go makes this one a difficult deal to pull off, but it may be worth overpaying to get and mold Bellerin as the future of Barça's right side.
Cesar Azpilicueta is a lot less glamorous of a name than Hector Bellerin, but he'd be the perfect addition to Barcelona's ranks. Antonio Conte is reportedly incredibly fond of Azpilicueta, and for good reason, but his versatility, technical proficiency and pure old-fashioned quality as a defender would make him the perfect addition to Barcelona's back line. There's no telling how much Chelsea would demand for his services, if they even entertained offers at all, but Azpilicueta would immediately make Barcelona better.
Barcelona have been crying out for a third midfielder to complement Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta since Xavi retired. Ivan Rakitic has moonlighted in that role admirably for a while, but it's clear the Camp Nou hierarchy are in search of someone who can do a better job there, and the search has taken so long, Iniesta will need to be replaced soon as well. Marco Verratti has been the name most often linked with improving Barcelona's midfield, and the little Italian would likely be ideal to grow into that role. His technical ability is sublime, his decision-making on the ball is fantastic, and he would benefit immensely to learn from the wisdom of Iniesta and knowledge of Busquets. PSG seem in absolutely no mood to sell, and he's got plenty of time on his contract, so it makes his signature a long shot, but it makes perfect sense for the Blaugrana to go all out.
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Should their pursuit of Verratti be unsuccessful, it may be worth the Blaugrana turning to France. Monaco's Fabinho quietly had a fantastic season with the French champs, and on last year's evidence, he looks as if he'd immediately improve Barcelona's midfield. A metronomic passer with a strong engine, Fabinho has the technical ability and decision-making to fit in Barcelona's midfield, and his physicality would be a welcome addition. His ability to play right back comfortably is another added benefit to a Barça team distinctly lacking in quality depth.
Barcelona's reportedly been dogged in their pursuit of Ousmane Dembele, and it's not a stretch to see why. The 20-year-old Frenchman lit the Bundesliga and Champions League up in his first season at Dortmund, and he looks to be perfectly qualified to make the jump to the next level. Any attacking player joining Barcelona arrives knowing they're the likely second option, and if Dembele touches down in the Camp Nou, it'll be his versatility that gets him on the pitch. Able to play on either side, or even through the middle, it makes him the perfect signing for a Barcelona team that are severely lacking in quality attacking depth.
Coutinho's been linked to Barcelona for some time now, and it wouldn't be surprising to see them finally make a move for the little Brazilian should their pursuit of Ousmane Dembele hit a roadblock. His versatility, technical ability and the performances he's put in year after year in a Liverpool shirt have shown he's ready for the leap, but Jurgen Klopp won't want to see his little magician leave. Coutinho's probably a long shot, but if Barcelona need a proven quality, versatile attacker, his name shouldn't be far off their lips.