Football Features

Keep or sell? The 15 senior Barcelona players left off the ‘non-transferable’ list

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 16:04, 21 August 2020 | Updated: 14:14, 5 December 2022

Barcelona are looking to make some big changes this summer.

After their first trophyless season for over a decade was capped by humiliating defeat in La Liga and the Champions League, a change has got to come to the Camp Nou. So far we’ve seen Quique Setién sacked and Ronald Koeman appointed in his place.

Now comes the clear-out of players. Or that’s the intention, at least. President Josep Bartomeu declined to tender his own resignation but has basically offered up the futures of most of the first-team squad. He listed Lionel Messi, Marc-André Ter Stegen, Clement Lenglet, Nelson Semedo, Frenkie de Jong, Antoine Griezmann, Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele as ‘non-transferable’, suggesting that up to as many as 15 players could be for sale the club this summer.

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So who should leave? Who should stay? We’ve had a look at all of the potential departures to decide if Barcelona should keep them, sell them, or release them.

Gerard Piqué

Age: 33
Appearances: 543

Gerard Piqué may take a while to really get started in a season, but once he does you can count the number of superior centre-backs on one hand with one finger (and no, it’s not Captain Madrid). Piqué’s ability to read the game is supernatural. This is a slow(ish) defender who has played the last decade 40-50 yards from his own goal basically at all times.

This is a man who spent most of the previous decade playing in between a 5’9 defensive midfielder and Dani Alves. No elite team exposes a defender quite as much as Barcelona expose Gerard Piqué, yet for the most part the Blaugrana always have a solid defence because Piqué was there holding things together. He’s an absolute colossus and just as important as Messi to any and all of Barcelona’s success post-Tito Vilanova. Yes, he’s not as good as he was, but he’s still brilliant.

Sure, Piqué is 33 and change is going to have to come, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be rushed. Even if Eric Garcia arrives, he is still a young man and will need mentoring. The same goes for Ronald Araujo.

Moreover, the defence still needs holding together and a season of Piqué teaching the youngsters the ropes with an eye to stepping back later is the best way for Barcelona to go about things. Keep him.


Ivan Rakitic

Age: 32
Appearances: 310

Ivan Rakitic’s career at Barcelona follows the same trajectory of the show Lost. His first and fourth seasons were masterful, his second and fifth were great in parts both also had some really dicey moments, and his third and sixth seasons were absolute agony punctuated by just a handful of “oh hey, that’s nice” moments.

Rakitic has served with distinction, but he’s definitely not good enough to start and blocking La Masia’s finest on the bench. He should be allowed to return to Sevilla (who are reportedly interested in signing him to replace the outgoing Ever Banega) and play out his final years in the Andalucian sunshine.


Sergio Busquets

Age: 32
Appearances: 579

Debates about just how “past-it” Sergio Busquets is have been raging since 2013. But on his day and on the ball there’s still no midfielder that can match him in terms of defensive instincts, positioning, pressing and passing from deep; age means those days are few and far between, though. Busquets still has immense use as a squad leader, second-half substitute to help control games (as Xavi was in 2014/15) and a general back-up option. Retain.


Luis Suárez

Age: 33
Appearances: 283

Unquestionably one of the greatest strikers in Barcelona’s history, Luis Suárez sits on 198 goals for the club and has never scored fewer than 20 goals in a season since joining in 2014. But the Uruguayan’s mobility is heavily diminished and that means for all his goalscoring, he is suffering in both the pressing and passing game. He’s been a fantastic servant for Barcelona, but it’s the right time for him to leave.



Age: 31
Appearances: 5

Decent back-up, but nothing so good that youngster Iñaki Peña couldn’t replace him. Sell.


Jordi Alba

Age: 31
Appearances: 336

He was once among the top three left-backs in the world, maybe even second only to Marcelo, but Alba’s decline is quite notable. Going forward his output remains strong, his crossing proving most useful for Barcelona. The problem is, defensively, he is a wide-open canyon straight to the heart of the Blaugrana goal who has been heavily targeted by the last four sides to knock Barcelona out of the Champions League. Shake his hand, give him a plaque and then sell him on and try to develop a more well-rounded and tactically robust left-back.


Martin Braithwaite

Age: 29
Appearances: 11

An embarrassing signing in multiple senses, including the manner he was signed outside the transfer window and then barely used anyway. Why did Barcelona bother? Why didn’t they just sign Erling Haaland for the same money in January? Braithwaite is an honest pro who deserves to go to a club that will play him regularly.


Sergi Roberto

Age: 28
Appearances: 284

Sergi Roberto is an embodiment of the Peter Principle. He was a fabulous utility man back-up, filling out the squad by covering multiple positions. Then they tried to make him their starting right-back and, like fetch, it just wasn’t going to happen. Personally responsible for three of the goals during the Anfield debacle, Roberto should not be an automatic starter but should definitely be retained to help fulfil his original role of being a reliable utility man.


Arturo Vidal

Age: 33
Appearances: 96

Arturo Vidal is such a complex figure because the things he does well, he does very well. It’s just that, at 33, if he doesn’t do something well he does it terribly. So while Barcelona have made use of his forward runs, goalscoring and tenacious pressing, he’s also struggling with both the passing and positional game, to say nothing of how error-prone he is defensively. To that end, you’ve gotta move him on.


Samuel Umtiti

Age: 26
Appearances: 18

Back in 2018, he was one of the very best defenders in the world but a decision to avoid having surgery on a knee injury after the World Cup win has sent Samuel Umtiti’s career into a downward spiral. Now his contributions are out of proportion with his enormous wage, and selling him has proved difficult because he’s too comfortable in his role.

There are reports suggesting Barcelona may have to try and release high-earners using the “carta de libertad” system. Essentially, this would involve Barcelona cutting players from the squad, leaving them free to negotiate and sign with any club they want, but they’d still pay his wages until he did sign with a new side. It’s an ugly option, but it may be the only way to resolve Umtiti’s situation.


Junior Firpo

Age: 23
Appearances: 23

Junior Firpo has talent. Just how much is a fair question, but he looked very promising bombing up and down the touchline for Real Betis. At Barcelona his purchase was absurdly needless given the (then) presence of Marc Cucurella. Still, he’s at the club now and young enough that if he were given the starting role at left-back and the trust of the coach, he could develop into a consistent performer. With no outstanding left-back available in the market, this could be the best play.


Philippe Coutinho

Age: 28
Appearances: 76

There’s talk that Coutinho could return from his loan spell and be given another chance in Catalunya, but that seems fanciful. The Brazilian is not a winger, while at No.10 he’d just get in Messi (and Griezmann’s) way, and when it comes to midfield he doesn’t play the role as well as Riqui Puig does. He’s talented, but sell him somewhere that will let him be the main man and use that money to sign players that fit the holes the squad actually has. William Hill have Barcelona as favourites to sign Neymar if the Paris Saint-Germain star moves to a new club this summer, and while it does seem unlikely the only way it could happen is it Coutinho is sold.

He moved to PSG from Barcelona in 2017 for a record £200m and since then has been linked with multiple moves back to the Nou Camp. Once again there has been plenty of rumours circulating about where Neymar will be playing football next season and it’s no surprise to see the Catalan outfit at the top of the market at 7/2. – The William Hill transfer rumour round-up


Juan Miranda

Age: 20
Appearances: 4

A promising young left-back who was never truly given a chance in the first-team under Ernesto Valverde. Now he could emerge in a post-Alba world to compete with Junior Firpo for a starting spot. He may not be good enough, but there’s only one way to find out.


Jean-Clair Todibo

Age: 20
Appearances: 5

Todibo looked like the future of Barcelona’s defence when he signed just over a year ago, but he was shipped off to Schalke in January as the Blaugrana raced to try and cover their accounting losses. It was a disappointing move, and it did him no favours as he struggled in the Bundesliga (after a bright start). Given Barcelona’s pursuit of Eric Garcia, and the presence of Piqué, Lenglet and Ronald Araujo, there wouldn’t be many minutes for the youngster at the Camp Nou in 2020/21, so moving him on could be best for everyone.



Age: 27
Appearances: 90

The younger Alcantara has spent the season on loan at Celta and has done well there. While he has never wanted for effort, his quality is more suited to mid-table. Should he be put up for sale, Rafinha will probably have no problem attracting suitors.


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