Barcelona need to be adding another proven number nine to their ranks following the “big loss” of Luis Suarez, says Luis Garcia, with Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland and Real Sociedad star Alexander Isak billed as potential options to be explored.
The Blaugrana opted to part with Suarez in the wake of Ronald Koeman’s appointment as coach, with the Liga giants allowing a man who plundered 198 goals during his time at Camp Nou to link up with domestic rivals Atletico Madrid – where he has thrived.
Garcia feels the acquisition of another predatory finisher needs to become a top transfer priority for Barca, but it remains to be seen who they will target if funds are made available during a testing period for the club financially.
What has been said?
“The departure of Suarez was a big loss. I think Barcelona were in a bit of a mess with the chairman, the new coach arriving and the situation with Lionel Messi,” former Barca midfielder Garcia told Goal.
“I think the best way for Suarez was to find a way out and not to fight Barcelona. He did well there and of course Atletico Madrid were there waiting for him. Diego Costa was injured and they saw the chance to bring in Suarez.
“And look at where he is now, getting sharper every weekend and top scorer of La Liga. He is showing how much of a killer he is inside the area.
“I think it was a big blow for Barcelona as it’s difficult to find a centre-forward like him, especially with the pandemic and a lack of money. We saw it in the January transfer market and how there were not many big moves. And it is no different for Barcelona.
“Of course, there are a few strikers out there. We’ve got Haaland on top, a striker who is a different number nine to what Barcelona are used to. They have been playing Antoine Griezmann as a number nine and also Messi and Martin Braithwaite. But these are not forwards who are built for this kind of Barcelona.
“I think Ronald Koeman is doing a fantastic job and trying to adapt new players and the system, we need to give him time. We have seen some very good games in the past few weeks, with a fantastic [Ousmane] Dembele and Pedri, who has been an amazing signing.
“Alexander Isak from Real Sociedad is another striker who I really like to watch. He’s a young talent, tall, has quality on the ball.
“So there are a few strikers who I would like to see at Barcelona. But again, it will be very different without having money to spend, so we will have to wait and see.”
Can Barcelona afford to spend on a striker?
The latest publication of the club’s annual accounts showed that the Liga heavyweights are now €1.2 billion (£1.1bn/$1.5bn) in debt.
That is making it difficult to draw up any recruitment plans, with an ambitious outfit having to rein in their spending as they target more cut-price options in future markets.
The bigger picture
Barca also have the issue of Messi’s future to contend with, as the six-time Ballon d’Or winner continues to run his contract down towards free agency.
Seeing him walk away for nothing, as Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain circle, would do little to aid the Blaugrana’s cause on economic and sporting levels – as finding a suitable replacement for the mercurial Argentine would be virtually impossible.
For now, Koeman and co are looking to bring the best out of those currently at their disposal, with Barca still in the hunt for La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League honours despite finding the going a little tough at times in 2020-21.