Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Barcelona Looms Large In Premier League Transfer Dealings

Spanish giant Barcelona has played an outsized role in the current Premier League transfer window. The financially troubled La Liga club are now reported to have reached a fee agreement with Manchester United for midfielder Frenkie de Jong. The transfer of the former Ajax player has been a long running soap opera this window. While the two clubs now have reached agreement, there is still talk that de Jong wants no part of the Red Devil project. Barcelona, in need of funds, wants the player out. Manchester United seeks to reunite the midfielder with former Ajax and current Red Devil manager Eric ten Hag. The player has so far dug his heels in for reasons ranging from dislike of the Manchester weather, an absence of Champions League football, and the cloud of failure and dysfunction that hangs over the Premier League club. De Jong has professed to want to continue with the Barcelona project under Barca Manager Xavi Hernandez.

More likely holding up a deal is resolution of the large amount of money that was deferred and is still owed de Jong by the Spanish club. Barcelona continues to have attraction to players across the globe despite its tattered finances. Rafinha, after his breakout season with Leeds, rejected overtures from Premier League clubs Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, and particularly Chelsea, to sign with Barcelona. Chelsea also had reported interest in Ousmane Dembele who has agreed a large pay reduction to stay in Spain. Barcelona appears ready to sign off on the contract the club offered Dembele after an unusual delay caused by the club negotiating a maze of other personnel changes which included the Rafinha signing. The Blaugrana have finalized the permanent transfer of Philippe Coutinho with Aston Villa. More helpful of course would the large bag of cash which would come from a de Jong transfer. Barca, meanwhile expressed no interest in retaining the loan services of Adama Traore who has returned to Wolverhampton chastened by his lack of success in La Liga during his loan spell last season. Traore, however, could capture the interest of Spurs after the club was rebuffed by Rafinha. Spurs and Manager Antonio Conte were interested in the Wolves’ winger during last January’s window. Memphis Depay is another player who wants to stay in sunny Barcelona despite diminished prospects. Depay is likely to be most disadvantaged by Rafinha’s arrival, but the former Manchester United player has supposedly rebuffed overtures by Arsenal and Spurs. Spurs’ aggressive window has included acquiring Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet on loan. Lenglet’s surplus to requirements status at Barca was helped along by Barcelona’s acquisition of former Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen on a free transfer. Chelsea owner Todd Boehly, meanwhile, was in Barcelona recently to negotiate the transfer of Chelsea players Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcus Alonso to the Catalans with a possible move of Barcelona defender and US national Sergino Dest to Stamford Bridge. The rumor mill even churned out supposed interest by the London club in midfielder de Jong. That unlikely move would be crushing to Manchester United. A de Jong transfer has not only hindered Manchester United’s progress this window but could be holding up one of the larger global moves in soccer. Robert Lewandowski, scorer of 50 goals across all competitions for Bayern Munich last season, wants a move from the Bundesliga to Barcelona. Chelsea Manager Thomas Tuchel also has reported interest in the Polish striker. Lewandowski though seems to want a Barca move or else will stay with Bayern where he has joined preseason training. If he does pack his bags for Barcelona, the extraordinary goal scorer would join Premier League alumni Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) and Ferran Torres (Manchester City) in a formidable front line for the Blaugrana. If Lewandowski were to reconsider a move to Chelsea, however, it would change the face of Chelsea football as the world class striker would join recently acquired Raheem Sterling in a suddenly explosive Blues attack.

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