Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde is a man under pressure at the Nou Camp. Despite the Catalan giants sitting at the La Liga summit, and atop of their Champions League group, patience among fans is beginning to run out.
The Catalan giants’ style of play has left much to be desired. According to Arsene Wenger, they’ve ‘lost their charisma’. Watching them in action, it’s hard to disagree.
Valverde may well be thinking about what happened in the summer. He wanted Barcelona to sign both Neymar and Matthijs de Ligt but, ultimately, never player arrived.
Express Sport now looks at how the La Liga titans could have lined up had they managed to get the duo they wanted.
Matthijs de Ligt
Barcelona were sure they’d won the race for De Ligt at the start of the summer, when the defender was still at Ajax.
They’d reportedly reached a verbal agreement with Mino Raiola and thought they’d be welcoming the Holland international to the club in time for pre season.
But Barcelona ended up being gazumped by Juventus instead.
De Ligt’s stock rose on the back of his fine performances for Ajax and Barcelona were suddenly blown out of the water.
Had the Dutchman signed, he’d have likely slotted in alongside Gerard Pique at the heart of Valverde’s defence.
Barcelona did want Neymar, although there are suspicions Josep Maria Bartomeu didn’t try as hard as he should have.
The PSG star was eager to return to the Nou Camp, two years on from his controversial move to the Parc des Princes.
But Barcelona struggled to get funds together for a deal.
Had they landed the Brazil international, he’d probably have been deployed alongside Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann in attack.
And that would have meant Barca adjusting their formation, likely playing Frenkie de Jong and Arthur Melo in their midfield.
Messi wanted Neymar
Lionel Messi recently admitted he wanted Neymar back at Barcelona – but hinted that some people didn’t.
“The topic of his return is a complicated one. First, because it’s difficult for him to leave there,” he said.
“Second, for the way he left (Barcelona). There are people at the club and season ticket holders who don’t want him back.
“He’s one of the best players in the world but I also understand the other way of thinking. It’s complicated.”