Catalan giants Barcelona are preparing for a huge summer of business as they try to address this season’s inconsistent form, according to reports in Spain.
The La Liga title-holders have lagged behind arch-rivals Real Madrid for the majority of this season, and they now look odds on crash out of the Champions League as well after losing 3-0 to Juventus in the first leg in Turin.
Barca have had chances to leapfrog Madrid, notably last weekend against Malaga, but they have all too often fallen at the final hurdle, as seen in the 2-0 defeat at La Rosaleda.
Sport claim that Barcelona are planning a ‘summer revolution’ with large numbers of players set to leave and join the club.
One of the players targeted is Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who has flirted with the idea of joining Barca at various stages this season.
Barca also have another ‘nine or 10’ names on their list of transfer targets, but Sport insist that quality of players will be the most important criteria.
In light of Luis Enrique’s upcoming exit from the club, Barcelona will begin to focus more on their renowned academy, La Masia.
Enrique has come under scrutiny from supporters for ignoring his side’s illustrious academy, but that looks all set to change this summer, with the club wanting more influence from players with Catalan roots.
Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu is expected to be re-signed by Barca once his loan at AC Milan finishes, while the likes of Sergi Samper may also be recalled.
In the meantime, prepare for a new barrage of ‘Lionel Messi to leave Barcelona’ rumours after reports in Spain claimed that the Barca superstar trained alone following the club’s Champions League defeat to Juventus.
Marca report that the 29-year-old decided to train away from the rest of the first-team squad on Wednesday in the wake of their 3-0 loss to Massimiliano Allegri’s men – a decision that saw Messi miss out on the dressing down received by his teammates from outgoing manager Luis Enrique.
The alleged report will no doubt lead fans and critics to question whether Messi and Enrique’s relationship has become even further strained and, perhaps unsurprisingly, could see the Argentina international linked with a summer move to Manchester City to be reunited with Pep Guardiola once more.
Enrique is set to leave his post at the end of the season after stating that the stress of managing Barcelona had become too much, and his departure could eventually see Messi decide to put pen to paper on a new deal that is said to have been discussed at length throughout the 2016/17 campaign.
The forward’s current contract is due to expire in the summer of 2018, and La Blaugrana will be desperate to hang onto the four-time Ballon d’Or winner to help keep them at the pinnacle of the game across Europe.
Contrasting reports have stated that Messi is either on the cusp of signing a new deal or has grown frustrated with a lack of progress over extending his stay and, with gossip columns set to go into overdrive in the coming weeks as the season draws to a close, expect plenty of column inches to be filled with speculation about his future.