Two and a half weeks have passed since Luis Enrique took over as Barça’s first team coach and despite an abundance of transfer rumours there are still no confirmed signings apart from Marc Andre Ter Stegen. It is being reported that Ivan Rakitic, Claudio Bravo and Marquinhos are all very close to joining the club while Cesc Fabregas is supposedly on the verge of a move to Chelsea. There is still a fair amount of uncertainty over the future of several first team players but yesterday it was revealed that Javier Mascherano has signed an improved contract that will see him continue at Camp Nou until 2018.
Many people may have expected Mascherano to be part of this summer’s clear-out but Luis Enrique obviously believes the Argentinian can still form an important part of the squad. El Jefecito celebrates his 30th birthday today and some reports suggest he could be made the new first-team squad captain following Carles Puyol’s retirement while there is also the possibility that he will be used as cover in midfield for Sergio Busquets.
It now seems likely that just one central defender will be signed to join Piqué, Bartra and Mascherano to compete for the two centre-back spots. We failed to make the move for Aymeric Laporte who has now signed an improved contract at Athletic Club so we would be wise to act quickly to ensure a decent signing. Reports that if all else fails we will sign Jeremy Matthieu from Valencia send shivers down my spine.
Of the reported imminent signings the most imminently imminentest seems to be that of Rakitic which for me would be an excellent addition at a good price. Bravo’s signing seems to depend on Johnathan dos Santos agreeing to go to Real Sociedad as part of the deal while the Marquinhos signing would mean losing Dani Alves. Other players who don’t seem certain to continue next season include Xavi, who is believed to be considering a move to Qatar, and Pedro who recently stated he was not sure of where he’d be after the summer. Losing Xavi would be a tremendous blow but I believe he stay put for another season. However, the World Cup seems sure to animate the transfer market and there may well be a surprise or two more over the next couple of months.