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Spanish giants Barcelona crashed out of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night as they lost 3-0 on aggregate to Italian champions Juventus in the quarter-finals of the competition.
The Catalans were fortunate to have made this far in the contest, after having overcome a 4-0 first-leg deficit against Paris Saint-Germain in the Round-of-16 stage to defeat the French side 6-5 on aggregate.
Barcelona have had a fairly poor season by their standards so far, despite having made it to the Copa Del Rey finals and sitting 2nd in the La Liga table. The performances have been largely underwhelming. The tactics have looked suspect from manager Luis Enrique, who is set to leave the club at the end of the season.
The Blaugrana invested heavily last summer, bringing in the likes of Andre Gomes, Denis Suarez, Paco Alcacer, Lucas Digne and Samuel Umtiti. But apart from Umtiti, the rest of the new recruits have been abysmally poor, shedding bad light on Enrique’s transfer policy.
It remains to be seen as to who will take up the reins at the Camp Nou for the next season, but the club will have to do extremely well in the transfer market if they are to have a better season. To that end, here are two players who could come in and help Barcelona perform better in the Champions League next season:
The lack of a quality right-back has hampered Barcelona this season. Enrique chose not to invest in a right-sided defender in the summer, having lost Dani Alves to Juventus.
Barca were left with just Aleix Vidal as the only specialist right-back in their ranks, but the Spaniard has been hit with injuries that have kept him out for almost the entire season. This has meant that Enrique has had to use Sergi Roberto as a makeshift option.
Arsenal man Hector Bellerin has long been linked with a move back to the Catalans having come through the famed La Masia before he joined the Gunners. The 22-year old has grown into one of the most promising full-backs in the Premier League. Despite having a slightly under-par season, the Spanish international has shown he has the quality to succeed on the biggest stages.
Arsenal will be in a strong position to negotiate as the player has a lot of years left on the contract. But with their Champions League chances looking slim and Arsene Wenger’s contract set to expire in the summer, Barcelona may find a way to convince the player over a move.
Another player who has been heavily linked with a move to the Catalan outfit, Marco Verratti has developed into one of the best central midfielders in the game with French outfit Paris Saint-Germain. He is valued at around £60million and would not come for a cheap price.
Having moved to PSG from Pescara nearly five years ago, he has already played almost 200 times for the club to become a key figure at the Parc des Princes. He has been one of the best players for the Parisiens this season, which has been marred by inconsistencies under new boss Unai Emery.
Barcelona’s interest in the Italian midfielder is well documented. The club sees him as the long-term replacement for club icon Andres Iniesta. The Spaniard is on the wrong side of 30’s now and judging by his displays, looks to be in the twilight of his extremely successful career. And with summer signings of Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez hardly looking good at the Camp Nou, the Catalans will be more determined than ever to bring Verratti in.
The 24-year old has a contract with PSG that runs till the summer of 2021, but Barcelona believe that they have the resources to complete a move in the summer and if it so happens that Verratti joins them, glory days could be back at the Camp Nou, sooner than later.