Signing a mobile, versatile, attack-minded midfielder appears to be at the top of Barcelona’s agenda, with reports linking the Catalan club to Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey and Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan.
Barca are “keen” on Ramsey, having scouted him on 10 occasions this season. Amazingly, a £50 million bid is touted for the Welshman, who has vastly improved over the last two years.
Ramsey is a dynamic midfielder. He utilises quick passes and bursts of movement to beat players and is capable of acting as a veil for Arsenal’s defence. However, his best form has come when he’s been given the freedom to bomb into the box.
Injury problems have hampered the former Cardiff City man yet again this campaign, but he’s still managed six goals and six assists in 28 Premier League appearances. Ramsey is an incisive midfielder, someone who is always looking to play one-twos, and he could add natural energy to the core of Luis Enrique’s team.
That said, £50 million for the 24-year-old is a staggering amount. He has undoubtedly improved, and he could fit in with Enrique’s increasingly combative side, but Ramsey would struggle to claim a first-team place over Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets.
Gundogan is the more conservative player, and according to Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo, he has already “passed a medical” with the Camp Nou club. It is suggested “an agreement has been made to sign Gundogan in the summer of 2016,” providing him one final season at Dortmund.
Barca’s current transfer ban stops them from registering incoming players until January 2016. This could be used as a bargaining chip—allowing potential purchases extra time at their current team after forming an agreement may swing the deal—but must continue to frustrate Enrique, who has had limited time to stamp his vision on the side.
Confirmation of Xavi’s departure, reported by Jordi Clos of Barca’s official website, ensures a new midfield maestro is needed. Ramsey and Gundogan are of similar quality, but the latter’s expiring contract means he is available for less than half the cost at £20.5 million.
ESPN FC’s Gabriele Marcotti recently detailed how difficult it will be to replace Xavi: Gundogan’s ball-retention skills and ability to spot a pass may make him a more natural fit for the Catalans than Ramsey, but it wouldn’t be beyond Enrique to secure the Arsenal man and provide him with an energetic role. One thing’s for sure: It will be hugely exciting to see just how well Barca spend when their ban concludes.
Considering the club has completed the first leg of a historic treble without investment since the summer, the lifting of FIFA’s ban may coincide with an era of Barcelona dominance.