7 transfer targets Barcelona missed out on in the summer & how they’ve fared this season
Barcelona were forced to think creatively in the transfer market as they looked to bolster Xavi’s squad over the summer transfer window, as demonstrated by their €3million worth of signings.
The club’s precarious financial situation meant that they ended up going for a mix of free agents, loan signings and bargains. But that didn’t stop them from getting linked to a number of big-name players in the gossip columns.
We’ve taken a closer look at seven of their reported transfer targets from over the summer and assessed how they’ve fared in 2023-24 so far.
Barcelona strolled to the La Liga last season in spite of making do without a proper right-back, so one was always likely to be among their top priorities this summer.
Widespread reports from Spain suggested they were incredibly keen on teenage sensation Fresneda, who had caught the eye after bursting onto the scene with Real Valladolid last term. Arsenal were also linked with the rising star, who ended up moving to Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon late in the window – after Barca turned their attention to Joao Cancelo.
Fresneda has barely played since moving to Sporting, though. He’s made just one five-minute cameo in the Primeira Liga. An odd one, as there’s bags of potential there.
“It’s great to hear Barcelona and United ‘love’ you,” the Brazilian said in September, shortly after the window closed.
“It’s fantastic to know your name is being mentioned by the big clubs. We’re starting the season well with Monaco, now I’m focused only in that.”
Vanderson was said to have been seen as another option on Barcelona’s right-back shortlist. Since then his stock has only grown further, having made an excellent start to the 2023-24 campaign for high-flying Monaco.
Barcelona are reportedly still keeping tabs. Cancelo is only on loan, after all. This might be one for 2024.
Vanderson 🇧🇷 (22) surely in his last season at Monaco. Such a versatile player, RB, RWB, RW. Always on the move, always seems to be in the right place pic.twitter.com/NYzvpBxEuA
— Moby (@Mobyhaque1) August 18, 2023
Another summer, another Bernardo Silva transfer saga, another deadline day that came and went with the Portugal international staying put at Manchester City.
It’s easy to imagine the technically gifted playmaker in a Barcelona shirt, and in another timeline they might have paid the big-money fee required to make it happen. But in this universe, the Catalan club are just too cash-strapped to have ever struck a deal with the European champions.
“I love Bernardo as a player,” Xavi said in August. “He understands everything and has an amazing ability to make decisions. He’s a very important player for Pep and he makes the difference on the pitch.”
“We want Bernardo Silva with us but I don’t want anyone to be unhappy here,” responded Guardiola.
“The first thing would be for the two clubs to come to an agreement – then of course, I want him in my team. It’s true that Bernardo Silva really likes FC Barcelona.”
No move materialised and once again Silva appears to have quickly gotten over it, knuckled down, and looked exceptional for City – all the while drawing envious glances from Barcelona. Same as it ever was.
The Daily Mail reported in July that the Brazilian wonderkid was admired by Deco and Xavi and on their shortlist to be Sergio Busquets’ long-term replacement.
The only problem is that the 19-year-old midfielder only joined Chelsea in January and he’s very much in their long-term plans, having penned a deal that runs all the way to 2030.
Santos, who played a starring role in Brazil’s South American Under-20 Championship triumph earlier this year, ended up going out on loan to Nottingham Forest while Barcelona brought home La Masia graduate Oriol Romeu to be Busquets’ stop-gap successor.
He’s played just seven minutes of Premier League football with Forest and is said to be growing frustrated with his lack of opportunities this season.
The goalscoring No.10 was arguably the best young player in La Liga last term. He shone for boyhood club Celta Vigo and was probably the difference-maker as they narrowly avoided relegation.
Barcelona, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool were all said to be chasing Veiga, who ended up signing for… Saudi Pro League side Al-Ahli. Oof.
Toni Kroos called the move “embarrassing”.
“We have to apply common sense and we think that we should move away from this operation due to the magnitude of it,” Barcelona president Joan Laporta told SPORT in July, explaining how they ended up gazumped for Guler’s signature.
“We had an agreement with the club for €17.5m. We also agreed with the player. Madrid has entered and considered that they had to pay the amounts that they have paid. We then thought that we did not have to continue.
“There are more players that I think we can get without entering this battle. We thought it would be a mistake on our part.”
Injuries have kept us waiting for the 18-year-old’s senior Los Blancos debut, but we can’t wait. We’re very excited about this kid.
Giovani Lo Celso
If you’re anything like us, you might have browsed Tottenham’s bench at one point recently and been surprised to see the Argentinian midfielder is still there.
It’s safe to say that Lo Celso can be filed alongside Tanguy Ndombele as a big-money signing that hasn’t worked out, having failed to live up to his £55million price tag.
Yet during his time on Spurs’ books he’s played a starring role in Argentina’s Copa America victory, would’ve been a shoo-in for their World Cup squad if not for injuries, and looked pretty decent out on loan at Villarreal.
So there was some degree of logic in Barcelona reportedly looking at Lo Celso, a proven La Liga midfielder, as an option. But no deal was agreed and the 27-year-old finds himself back with his parent club and on the periphery of Ange Postecoglou’s squad.
Given the injury to James Maddison, Lo Celso finds himself with an unlikely opportunity to make himself a belated success at Tottenham.
We still reckon he probably needs a permanent move elsewhere to rekindle his career, but let’s wait and see.