FC Barcelona has already jolted the soccer world after securing the transfer of Luis Suarez from Liverpool FC, but Luis Enrique’s work is not completed as efforts to bolster the side continue. With Lionel Messi, Neymar and now Suarez, Barca enjoys an abundance of offensive riches. Enrique will not have to worry about the ability to score goals when opportunities arise, the next order of business will be to assure quality assist options for his scorers and a stout back line to defend. Collecting star players is always the first order of business, but Enrique must assemble a reliable supporting cast to make the most of his offensive arsenal.
Barca cannot unwrap its expensive Liverpool acquisition Suarez for four months due to his FIFA imposed penalty for biting Giorgio Chiellina during Uruguay’s World Cup match with Italy. Some of criticized Barcelona for taking the plunge for Suarez, but transcendent talents only become available every so often and Enrique determined he could properly channel the Uruguayan’s aggression. Nevertheless, Barca legend Johan Cruyff criticized the transaction as a move away from effective team football, noting that Neymar, Suarez and Messi are all known for their individual creative play instead of following a team first concept like the German World Cup winners. Cruyff could have a point if Barca is done dealing this summer, but in all likelihood the transfer jolts to the FC Barcelona side will continue.
The next target on the list for Enrique and Barca President Josep Bartomeu will most likely be Colombian Juan Cuadrado. The World Cup assist leader would be an invaluable asset to what could become a goal scoring juggernaut. Enrique needs a glue man to hold the scoring pieces together and Cuadrado fits that description. Cuadrado’s current club, Fiorentina, hopes for his return, but will sell him for a price. Unfortunately, Barca may need to open the bank vault for a Cuadrado transfer as Fiorentina can see Barca’s need for his services. The reported transfer fee under discussion is in the range of €40 million. In order to make the most of their investment in Messi, Neymar and Suarez, adding Cuadrado to the mix makes abundant sense.
On the defensive end of the pitch, Enrique appears to have locked onto Marquinhos from Paris Saint-Germain. With PSG’s acquisition of Brazilian David Luiz and their apparent desire to outbid Manchester United for the services of Angel Di Maria, Barca could be positioned to make a play for Marquinhos as PSG looks to sweeten the deal for DiMaria. Rumors are flying that Di Maria has snubbed the French club, which could make Barca’s move for Marquinhos more expensive if they do not have timing on a PSG Di Maria transfer running in their favor. If a transfer for Marquinhos stalls, Barca has also been linked to defender Jan Vertoughen of Tottenham as an alternative.
FC Barcelona entered the transfer window from a position of strength and has only become stronger. Matching up with Real Madrid will be a tall order in El Clasico, as Real appears to be adding Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez to the side. FC Barcelona generally makes the most of its transfer opportunities and this summer is no exception as they look to jolt the side with a continuation of the talent stream. Enrique will have the difficult task of keeping the talent organized and playing together.
Commentary by William Costolo