Football Features

Barcelona chasing two signings this summer even more “perfect” than Lewandowski and Kounde

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 15:08, 6 July 2022

Barcelona are looking to finish their banter era with a bang this summer transfer window.

Xavi has already guided them out of the doldrums and given them a degree of self-respect with his first six months in charge but they are in need of another jolt of life to properly compete with the other elite clubs again.

That jolt is scheduled to come in the 2022 summer transfer window.

Everyone knows Barcelona are having money troubles but their sale of 10% of their TV rights (for 25 years) allowed them to balance the books last season and the sale of another 15% should net them a €200m transfer budget to improve the squad with signings while cutting the deadwood with early releases.

And so, of course, everyone knows they are pursuing Robert Lewandowski and Jules Koundé for the sharp ends of the pitch this season. Two world-class players, Lewandowski and Koundé’s arrival in Catalunya would represent the Blaugrana’s return to the top tier of the game.

But on paper at least, Barcelona can make two better signings this summer. Two “perfect” signings.

They are Premier League stars Raphinha and Bernardo Silva.

Bernardo Silva for Frenkie de Jong

Barcelona have been linked with Bernardo Silva a lot lately, especially when word of Joan Laporta meeting with Jorge Mendes came out. Mendes represents Bernardo and so many put two and two together.

Of course the thrust of Barcelona’s pursuit of Bernardo Silva is built around the idea that they will need a top-class central midfielder (or interior) to play with youngsters Pedri and Gavi, should Frenkie de Jong depart the club.

De Jong has been constantly linked with an exit all summer long, with rumours spinning that this sale would be for financial reasons against the wishes of the player. Although if he were playing as well as he could do, the Blaugrana surely wouldn’t even countenance a sale.

Nevertheless, with Frenkie out Bernardo would come in so Barcelona don’t have to frontline two teenagers for 60 games a season.

Raphinha for Ousmane Dembélé

Raphinha’s transfer to Barcelona has been brewing for months, and looked all but certain to transpire as Leeds verged on relegation. That would have triggered a €25m release clause in Raphinha’s contract, but after Leeds stayed up, that fee will likely shoot up to €60m.

The reason Barcelona wanted Raphinha is because Ousmane Dembélé was heading into the final months of his contract with no signs of a renewal, so Barcelona moved to identify a winger who could fill his role in the squad: that’s Raphinha.

Now Dembélé’s contract has expired, but rumour has it that Barcelona would be happy to renew him and sign Raphinha, which makes sense when you consider that until Ansu Fati hits 100% again, they only have Ferran Torres as a reliable wing option besides Dembélé. Raphinha would be a huge addition to the Barcelona squad.

Why would Raphinha and Bernardo Silva be perfect signings?

The answer to this is simple: they’re very good at the specific things Xavi would want them to do. Barcelona need their wingers to excel 1-v-1 and create chances for teammates after beating their man, and Xavi also needs his interiors to be ferocious pressing machines who can maintain Barcelona’s aggressive counterpress and squeeze the opponent inside their half while also being able to create chances.

On the face of it, Raphinha is an electric and unpredictable dribbler who unbalances opponents with his tremendous skill and creates chances for teammates. That is something Barcelona need as they play with their wingers high, wide and often 1-v-1.

Bernardo Silva can do literally everything you want a Barcelona midfielder to do. It’s especially notable how ferocious he is in the tackle, pressing with intensity and intelligence while also creating chances for his team-mates.

Looking a bit deeper, however, and you see that Raphinha is also a tenacious tackler while Bernardo Silva is also a dynamic dribbler.

Bernardo Silva and Raphinha are the only two players in the Premier League during all of 2021/22 to create 50+ chances, complete 50+ take-ons and make 50+ tackles. None of the other great players in the division were as tactically complete.

In fact, Bernardo and Raphinha are two of only three players across all of Europe’s top five leagues to have hit 50+ on those three metrics. They are joined by Lazio’s Felipe Anderson, showing how rare of an achievement it is.

Moreover, Bernardo producing that consistently while in the middle of a high-pressure title race where he played multiple positions, and Raphinha doing so in the middle of Leeds’ relegation scrap where he played much of the season without the other two great Leeds players – shows they both have the kind of mental fortitude needed to succeed at the Camp Nou.

So, yes, Raphinha and Bernardo are not as good as Lewandowski and Koundé, but if they came, they would be the perfect signings.