PETE JENSON: Is Robert Lewandowski the marquee signing Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been craving or just more fantasy? Xavi wants the Bayern star to lead his young team but the club’s financial woes could ruin the key piece of his rebuild
- Barcelona said they would keep Lionel Messi, and wanted to sign Erling Haaland
- But neither happened – and now the Catalans want to sign Robert Lewandowski
- Fans wonder, is this just more fantasy football from club president Joan Laporta?
- Cash-strapped Barca are trying to balance their incomings with their outgoings
At the end of last season Barcelona were confident that they would keep Lionel Messi. In the middle of this season they said they were hopeful of signing Erling Haaland.
Now as their chances of signing Robert Lewandowski are talked up, fuelled by his public admission that he wants to leave Germany, Barcelona supporters are split over how this will end.
Does Joan Laporta finally get his marquee signing or is this just more fantasy football from the Barcelona president?
Robert Lewandowski’s eight-year stay at Bayern Munich looks set to come to an end
In favour of Barcelona pulling off the coup is the player’s desire to sign. Xavi has spoken personally to Lewandowski. The player’s agent Pini Zahavi has a good relationship with Laporta.
And Saturday’s farewell to Bayern supporters further greased the cogs, pending Bayern signing a replacement and not just deciding to let him run down his deal giving them 12 months to bring in another forward.
For now Barcelona are happy the player is doing everything in his power to sign but are still doubtful over whether they would be able to register him with La Liga who still have them tied to Article 100 obliging them to bring in four times as much money as they spend on any player.
Barcelona are talking up the chances of signing Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski
Lewandowski may have played his last game for Bayern and gave an emotional farewell to fans
If Lewandowski came in earning £17m gross and costing £30m in transfer fee, even spread over a three year contract that amounts to £15m a year. Barcelona would need to bring in 72m to satisfy the league’s financial fair play rule.
They want to sell Frenkie de Jong to Manchester United for that amount but selling the Dutch midfielder would leave them needing to bring in a replacement – probably Carlos Soler from Valencia – and they would need to register him and other new players.
Franck Kessie arrives from Milan, Andreas Christensen and maybe Cesar Azpilicueta come in from Chelsea. It will be a struggle to register them with La Liga just as Barcelona had to wait to register Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the January market.
There is still pessimism among some at the club that this can be pulled off.
No one would be surprised if the big gains this summer don’t end up being re-signing Ousmane Dembele, presenting a fully-fit Ansu Fati in pre-season and, if Leeds get relegated, taking advantage of Raphinha’s £21.2m release clause.
Barcelona want to sell Frenkie de Jong to Man United to facilitate a move for Lewandowski
One thing is clear: Xavi has put in the leg-work since he took over as coach and the club need to reward him with a competitive squad for next season.
He went to Munich to sit down with Haaland in March, only for it to soon become clear that the possibility of him signing was slim to zero.
He has convinced Lewandowski that he can build his young Barcelona team around him. Even if the Polish striker does not arrive, Xavi will begin the season feeling let down by his board if his desire to have two players for each position are not met.
In goal Marc-Andre ter Stegen will stay, but Neto will move on to make way for Iñaki Peña who returns from a loan at Galatasaray.
At right back, if Azpilicueta arrives it looks unlikely that Dani Alves will be offered a new contract. The Chelsea defender would compete with Sergino Dest, providing there are no big offers for the US international.
With Barcelona keen to sign Cesar Azpilicueta, Dani Alves is unlikely to be offered a new deal
In the centre of defence Ronald Araujo, Gerard Pique, Eric Garcia and Andreas Christensen will compete for the two positions.
At left back Xavi wants Javi Galan or Jose Gaya to compete with Jordi Alba, although bringing in either might depend on Celta Vigo or Valencia being willing to factor players into the deal.
Clement Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti, Martin Braithwaite and Oscar Mingueza are all options to become makeweights in any transfers.
In midfield Xavi wants a squad of six with Kessie arriving from Milan to join Sergio Busquets, Gavi, Pedri, Nico and De Jong or Soler if De Jong leaves.
In attack Xavi sees Dembele, Lewandowski and Fati from right to left as his perfect forward line. Memphis, Aubameyang and Ferran Torres would complete the six with Raphinha, represented by Deco, arriving if Dembele doesn’t stay.
Xavi is set to make a number of changes to his Barcelona team ahead of next season
But the coach’s wish list veers back towards the fantasy unless Barcelona’s financial situation can change drastically in the coming weeks.
To all the other interminable ifs and buts the club finally selling off Barça Studios or accepting the investment fund deal with CVC can be added.
The former doesn’t seem imminent and the second remains a course of action they would prefer to avoid.
On the bright side Barcelona could seal second today with a point against Getafe and with the subsequent spike in TV money (paid to clubs according to where they finish in the table) and the financial reward for participating in the Spanish Super Cup (courtesy of finishing two-two) that could mean an extra 20m euros.
It all goes towards the dream of bringing in Lewandowski. Laporta will hope it’s enough to avoid an unwelcome hat-trick of three targets – Messi, Haaland and Lewandowski – not met.
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