Who should Barcelona sign to replace Neymar?
Paris Saint-Germain announced on Thursday evening that ex-Barcelona star Neymar Jr has joined them in a stunning £198m move.
The Ligue 1 giants proudly shared the news with football fans around the world on their official social media account (Twitter), effectively ending weeks of speculation on the Brazilian’s future.
Here are six players they could sign – and one who they already have signed – to replace Neymar.
Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool
Liverpool have already turned down a £72m bid for Coutinho this summer, with Jürgen Klopp warning Barcelona to back off.
Coutinho signed a five-year, £150,000-a-week contract in January but Barcelona’s interest is understandable. His return of 13 league goals last season made him the joint top scoring Brazilian in Europe’s top five leagues. The player he was level with? Neymar, of course.
Paulo Dybala, Juventus
While last season wasn’t Dybala’s finest by any stretch – he managed just 11 goals and seven assists in Serie A – Barcelona witnessed first-hand how lethal he can be earlier this year. The Argentina forward scored twice against Barcelona in the first 22 minutes of the Champions League quarter-final to set Juventus on their way to a 3-0 aggregate win. That stunning performance piqued Barcelona’s interest in the player and he might be tempted by the idea of lining up alongside Lionel Messi before the World Cup next year.
Gerard Deulofeu, Barcelona
Barcelona have made three signings so far this summer: they made their loan deal for 21-year-old defender Marlon Santos permanent; they signed the Benfica right-back Nélson Semedo for £26m; and they activated their buy-back clause to re-sign Gerard Deulofeu from Milan. The former Everton winger captained Spain in the European Under-21 Championship final earlier this summer in Poland, where he continued the fine form he had shown last season for Milan.
Kylian Mbappé, Monaco
Mbappé’s breakthrough campaign was impressive to say the least. He was directly involved in more goals (23: 15 goals, eight assists) than any other teenager in Europe’s top five leagues last season. His style of play is eerily similar to that of Thierry Henry, another former Barcelona player, and his willingness to pull to the left before driving for goal would make him an ideal replacement for Neymar.
Eden Hazard, Chelsea
Speaking of Real Madrid, the club have been heavily linked with a move for Hazard for some time now but he could be the ideal replacement for Neymar at Camp Nou. He is out until September, at the earliest, with an ankle issue but he has the pedigree and profile to succeed in Barcelona.
Ángel di María, Paris Saint-Germain
Neymar’s arrival may leave Di María or Julian Draxler without a starting place at Paris Saint-Germain. Di María is perhaps better on the right wing but he is a capable performer on either flank. Di Maria’s adaptability means he can excel in either a 4-2-3-1 formation or a 4-3-3, meaning Valverde wouldn’t have to alter Barcelona’s system too much.
Antoine Griezmann, Atlético Madrid
Atlético Madrid’s transfer denied them the chance to buy Alexandre Lacazette – who became Arsenal’s record signing – but it meant the club could retain the services of Griezmann for one more season. He only scored 16 league goals last season – down from 22 in his previous two seasons – but only Messi (15) has scored more goals from outside of the box than Griezmann (10) in La Liga in the last two years.