Barcelona has targets. But because every club in the world knows exactly how much money they have to spend, everyone wants a piece of it.

By 90Min
August 23, 2017

Barcelona have a serious problem.

So dominant in recent years, the Catalans lost to Real Madrid in the Spanish title race last season and were convincingly eliminated at the quarter final stage of the Champions League - it had taken a miraculous and near impossible aggregate comeback for them just to get that far.

Just in ordinary circumstances, the need to strengthen would have been there.

But these are no longer just ordinary circumstances at Camp Nou.

Neymar's departure to Paris Saint-Germain, against the club's will, has left a gaping hole in the team, reducing the famed 'MSN' trio by 33%. It is like losing a limb and one cannot help but feel Barça will continue playing catch up in Spain and Europe unless they can somehow find a replacement that will hit the ground running.

There is just over a week of the summer transfer window remaining, though, and things are starting to get desperate. The club has, in somewhat underwhelming fashion, added Paulinho to the midfield for €40m, while Nelson Semedo has finally filled the right-back void after joining from Benfica.

Gerard Deulofeu returns after a buy-back clause was activated, while Marlon Santos is back in Spain and now a member of the first-team squad after his loan from Fluminense was made permanent.

Those signings were necessary before the Neymar saga.

Perhaps Barça, a club that hasn't always recruited particularly well in the recent past - Thomas Vermaelen, Arda Turan, Andre Gomes, to name a few current examples - could have done better, but replacing Neymar is the really big ask.

As things stand, they are failing to do so.

Why?

The Brazilian's seismic €222m exit was played out so publicly and it has given his former employers a serious problem, despite earning a huge payday from the deal.

The payday, while easing the club's significant financial restraints, is the problem.

Barcelona have targets. But because every club in the world knows exactly how much money they have to spend, everyone wants a piece of it.

A 'Barcelona Tax'

Ousmane Dembele is not a €150m player after just two seasons of professional football. But Borussia Dortmund are determined that Barça will pay through the roof if they want to sign the young French winger, a potentially perfect replacement for Neymar in the left forward role.

Why? Because they can stand to extort in the knowledge the money is there.

At 25 years of age, Philippe Coutinho is more established, but again worth no way near the figures being talked about.

The third rejected bid is thought to have been around €124m, and while Liverpool insist the Brazilian is not for sale at any price, there is a part of you that wonders if the stance will change if the number goes just a little bit higher.

Again, they know Barça have the money in the bank after Neymar's exit. It may not have been their intention to sell, but if Coutinho wants to leave, as his transfer request would suggest he does, the Reds might as well take the Catalans for a ride to make sure they get a super inflated price.

The Unattainables

Barcelona's other problem has been targeting players that are unattainable.

Talk of interest in Manchester United's Ander Herrera was quickly quashed when it became clear that, despite the opportunity for the midfielder to reunite with former Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde, he wanted to stay and commit himself to the Old Trafford club.

Marco Verratti was keen on trading France for Spain, but PSG in an act of ultimate hypocrisy flat out refused to negotiate over a possible deal for the Italian international before then nonchalantly bulldozing their way through to Neymar.

Whether Barça will land Dembele, Coutinho, both or neither in what is left of the summer transfer window remains to be seen. Given the money involved, both seems unlikely. And if either does arrive, it will certainly be on the selling club's terms and not Barcelona's.

Being super rich is sometimes a hindrance, not a help, if everyone knows about it.

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