Life After Messi: How Barcelona Should Invest £120m Fee on Three World-Class Talents Using Money From Potential Sale

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Lionel Messi’s future is once again the subject of speculation in today’s papers, with the Argentine a reported target for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

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The Citizens’ 4-0 defeat at Everton over the weekend has increased pressure on the ex-Bayern Munich head coach to spend big to rectify the problems in his squad, and former charge Messi is one of the names mentioned as a potential solution.

According to The Sun (via The Telegraph), Guardiola is plotting a bid in excess of £100m to lure La Pulga to north-west England and is determined to get his man. The paper claims ‘positive talks’ have already been held for the player, who has just a year to run on his current deal at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona, for their part, remain convinced they can keep Messi in Catalonia, however, should contract negotiations reach an impact in the forthcoming months, a summer sale could well be on the cards.

Should Messi depart the La Liga champions, attention would then turn to finding adequate replacements for the serial Ballon d’Or winner.

Here are three names that could compensate for the loss of the Argentine.

Ousmane Dembele (Borussia Dortmund)

A potential like-for-like replacement for Messi, Frenchman Dembele is a versatile forward with innate dribbling ability. Billed as a future world star in light of his performances over the past 18 months, the 19-year-old is also very much a talent for the present, too, and quickly cemented a place in Thomas Tuchel’s side following a summer switch from Rennes.

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Boasting an impressive record of five goals and 12 assists so far this season, Dembele certainly wouldn’t come cheap. He’s contracted to the Bundesliga outfit until 2021, meaning he’ll only move for big-money.  That said, Barcelona will need a player of his ilk should Messi leave the Camp Nou- and may view paying Dortmund’s asking price for the youngster as the best option.

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Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)

Messi’s absence would create such a void in the Barcelona ranks that it would be nigh on impossible to replace his influence with just one sole player. With that in mind, long-standing target Philippe Coutinho would be another addition who could help the Blaugrana progress in the post-Messi era.

Billed as a potential successor to veteran Andres Iniesta, the Brazilian could either play as the most advanced of the usual midfield three, or from the left on an attacking trident. Jurgen Klopp’s first full season at Anfield has coincided with Coutinho’s best run of form in a red jersey, and the ex-Inter man is now viewed as one of the best players in his position in the Premier League.

The 24-year-old is another who certainly wouldn’t come cheap, but with his star on the rise, Barcelona would be advised to steal a march on other potential suitors by stumping up the cash during the close season.

Coutinho

Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)

An imposing centre-back on the fringes of the German national team squad, Tah has developed into one of the Bundesliga’s best central defenders since his 2015 move to Leverkusen, and would be a quality partner for Gerard Pique at the heart of the Barca defence.

Javier Mascherano is almost certainly coming to the end of his time at the club, while French duo Samuel Umtiti and Jeremy Mathieu are yet to prove they can nail down a regular place in the Catalan giants’ back-line.

A move for £30m-rated Tah- one of the best up and coming defenders in Europe- would be an astute way of reinvesting any remaining funds left from Messi’s departure.

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