Malcom in the middle? How Barcelona could line up with new €41m Brazilian signing

The Brazilian winger gives the Blaugrana a number of tactical options for the new season and here, Goal takes a look at how he can fit in at Camp Nou

Malcom became Barcelona's third signing of the summer on Tuesday. The Catalans swooped to steal the winger from under the noses of Roma and announced a €41 million deal for the Bordeaux player.

The 21-year-old follows fellow Brazilian Arthur, bought from Gremio earlier this summer, and central defender Clement Lenglet, a €36m arrival from Sevilla during the World Cup.

Malcom was wanted by a number of Europe's elite clubs and had been on the verge of joining Roma until Barca contacted Bordeaux just in time to beat the Italians' offer and convince the player to move to Camp Nou instead.

"This is a unique experience. I feel really happy. It's a dream come true to come to one of the biggest clubs in the world," he told Barca TV

"I hope to make the fans happy. I'm really looking forward to meeting my team-mates, to talk to them and find out more about the way we play. I'm really excited and in a hurry to get started. It's difficult to explain the feeling. It's a dream come true since I was young."

The Brazilian, who is yet to be capped by his national team, is an exciting talent who is left-footed but can operate in a number of positions across the midfield and attack.

At Barca, he is likely to be in competition with France winger Ousmane Dembele for a place in the starting line-up, the former Borussia Dortmund attacker enduring a difficult debut season at Camp Nou in 2017-18.

So where is Malcom most likely to play? Here, Goal takes a look at the options available to coach Ernesto Valverde in the coming campaign...


Malcom on the right Barcelona

Malcom's most likely position looks to be on the right wing for Barcelona, be it in a 4-4-2 like the one Ernesto Valverde played last season, in a 4-2-3-1 or even in a 4-3-3.

The winger is left footed, but played on the right under Gustavo Poyet at Bordeaux and that position allows him to cut inside and shoot. Barca have regularly played with inverted wingers throughout the years and he would be another.

"It depends on the system," Poyet said on Tuesday. "He can play on both sides, but for me he played on the right. In a way, similar to [Lionel] Messi, cutting inside to the centre."

Malcom on the right with Messi further forward, alongside Luis Suarez, therefore seems the most logical option for Valverde and Barca in 2018-19.


Malcom on left Barcelona line-up

As Poyet said, Malcom is able to play either side and if it is more of a creative role Valverde wants, he could select the Brazilian on the left flank from where he can cross for Messi and Suarez.

As well as scoring 12 times last season in Ligue 1, Malcom grabbed seven assists and created 87 chances in total for his team-mates at the French outfit. If he is on the left, that could allow Philippe Coutinho to operate more centrally or see Ousmane Dembele utilised on the right.

And if he were used on the left in a 4-3-3, that would mean Messi could revert to the right with Suarez in the centre of a formidable three-man attack, ahead of Coutinho (or Arthur), Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets.


Malcom in the middle Barcelona

Even though he is mostly considered as a winger or wide player these days, Malcom featured as a second striker or as a number 10 for his first club Corinthians in Brazil, often operating behind Peru's Paolo Guerrero for the Sao Paulo side.

Article continues below

At Barca, the chief playmaker is Messi these days and that is unlikely to change, but Malcom in the middle in a 4-2-3-1 (Valverde's preferred formation at Athletic Club) or a 4-1-4-1 (the system he used at Espanyol) would allow the Argentine attacker to start out wide on the right, with Coutinho or Dembele on the left and Suarez alone further forward.

Alternatively, it could allow Suarez to be rested and Messi utilised in a false nine role ahead of Coutinho, Malcom and Dembele, with Busquets and Rakitic forming a double pivot in front of the back four.