For the first time in a while there is optimism at Barcelona, the club’s 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid last weekend increasing hopes that the Catalans are on the rise again.
Xavi has had an immediate impact since taking the managerial reins in November, losing just one of his 16 league fixtures in charge after returning to the Camp Nou as head coach.
The Spanish side’s rebuild is complicated by the continued financial difficulties at Barcelona and the situation means cost-efficient signings will be needed again this summer.
Barcelona have been linked with several free agents in recent months and we’ve decided to look at five potential free additions who could aid the club’s rebuild under Xavi.
Barcelona are closing in on the signing of Franck Kessie from AC Milan, with the midfielder set to leave the Rossoneri on a free transfer after five seasons at the San Siro.
The 25-year-old is understood to have completed a medical ahead of a formal announcement over his move to Spain, in what will represent a coup for the cash-strapped Catalans given strong interest in the Ivory Coast international from the Premier League.
Here we go. After verbal agreement reached days ago, Franck Kessié has signed as new Barcelona player until June 2026 – it’s gonna be four year deal, he joins as free agent from AC Milan. 🔵🔴 #FCB
Kessié will receive €6.5m net salary plus add-ons. Medical already completed. pic.twitter.com/9kFCIPJXn5
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) March 22, 2022
Kessie is comfortable in an anchor role or as a more marauding box-to-box presence and he has scored 38 goals in 215 appearances across his time with Milan, including a career-best 13 goals in 2020/21 as he shouldered penalty duty.
The midfielder will add steel and presence to an inexperienced midfield contingent at Barcelona, with Sergio Busquets currently the veteran lead of an engine room containing the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Riqui Puig and teenage duo Pedri and Gavi.
Andreas Christensen is another name that Barcelona are understood to be close to signing, with the centre-back having failed to agree a new deal at Chelsea.
Thomas Tuchel had claimed earlier in the campaign that an agreement was close between the Denmark international and Chelsea, but the lack of progress since – alongside the current uncertainty at Stamford Bridge – indicates an exit is all but confirmed.
The 25-year-old would offer a long-term replacement to Gerard Pique at the heart of the defence and his comfortability in possession is suited to the style Xavi has looked to implement at the Camp Nou.
Having won the Champions League and Europa League during his time in the Premier League, Christensen – who has also interested Bayern Munich – would represent a shrewd signing given his best seasons appear to be ahead of him.
Azpilicueta is also fast approaching the end of his contract at Chelsea and with the club currently unable to renew deals could find himself as a free agent in the summer.
The 32-year-old has been a stalwart for Chelsea for a decade and has won every honour available during his time in west London, lifting two Premier League titles, the Champions League, two Europa League trophies, the FA Cup and League Cup at Stamford Bridge.
After more than 450 appearances for the Blues the club captain could seek a new challenge at the end of the season, with his automatic status having come under threat following the emergence of Reece James at right-back and competition for places in a central position.
Azpilicueta has not played in his native Spain since leaving Osasuna in 2010 and the chance to be a part of Barcelona’s rebuild – and provide an experienced figure for a youthful dressing room – could appeal after an illustrious career in England.
Noussair Mazraoui has turned down a new contract at Ajax and his decision has sparked a scramble from several sides across Europe, both Barcelona and Bayern Munich among those interested in the right-back.
Barcelona currently have Dani Alves and another former Ajax right-back, Sergino Dest, among their options, but it remains to be seen whether the veteran Alves is handed a new deal after signing a short-term contract until the end of the season.
Noussair Mazraoui on his future club: “The project, the contract, the name of the club, it’s all very important. There are 2 months left and in these 2 months my decision will be made”, he told @nos. 🇲🇦 #transfers
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) March 20, 2022
Interestingly, Mazraoui recently discussed Alves as an idol when speaking on his approach and future: “He [Alves] is my example, his qualities are beyond doubt. My style, always trying to attack, is inspired by Alves,” he said on the Brazilian to NOS.
The 24-year-old – who has five goals and two assists in the Eredivisie this season – also confirmed he would make a decision on his future in the coming weeks.
“The project, the contract, the name of the club, everything is very important,” he said.
“But also the way in which you imagine yourself there. Two months remain [in the season] and I will take my decision during that time.”
Paulo Dybala has emerged as one of the biggest free agents in this summer’s market, with the news having broken this week that the forward will not renew at Juventus.
Dybala had been expected to reach an agreement with the Bianconeri, but will now negotiate with sides as he prepares to leave Turin on a free transfer.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) February 15, 2022
The 28-year-old has scored 113 goals and provided 48 assists in 283 appearances for Juventus, winning five league titles and being named as Serie A’s Most Valuable Player in 2019/20.
Operating as a second striker or drifting inside from the right, he could provide the Barcelona attack with an injection of quality, additional goal threat, and guile.
His injury issues this season will be a concern to the Barcelona board, but there are few more talented players available on a free transfer this summer.