Barcelona have enough midfielders to deal with Ivan Rakitić’s departure
If there is one position where Barcelona are fully staffed, it is in midfield. There are no holes to plug anywhere in midfield. Sergio Busquets got a backup in the form of Frenkie de Jong last summer, and Arthur is developing into a world-class player.
As for backup, Arturo Vidal is an extremely effective player coming off the bench and Sergi Roberto can also fill in when required. The only two midfielders who have got negligible playing time this season are Carles Aleñá and the departing Ivan Rakitić.
While Aleñá does not even make the matchday squad nowadays, Rakitić has seen just 203 minutes of action this season. The Croatia international is unhappy at Barça, and is expected to join Inter Milan for a fee of €35 million in the January transfer window.
There has been talk of Barça going after replacements for Rakitić, with Napoli star Fabián Ruiz emerging as an option. Barça are also scouting recently-capped Grêmio youngster Matheus Henrique, who is having a breakout season.
But does the squad really require these additions? With a marquee centre-forward signing still required and the centre-back situation still unresolved, should Barça be indulging in luxury signings, especially when there is a ready-made solution?
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Carles Aleñá and Ivan Rakitić are different players. While the La Masia graduate has more flair, the former Sevilla captain is more defence-minded. Also, Rakitić is more focused on the retention of possession than creative endeavours of his own.
Aleñá likes to go forward more, and get involved in attack. And while he hasn’t gotten onto the scoresheet very often for Barça, his record for Barcelona B proves that he makes an excellent playmaker in terms of goals and assists.
Certainly, Aleñá is not the perfect replacement for Rakitić. But he could turn out to be the player that Barça need right now. There is a huge creative void in midfield, with the goals usually coming from individual talent rather than teamwork.
Arthur got himself a very good assist recently, but both he and De Jong are naturally conservative midfielders. Senior player Sergio Busquets has declined in recent times, and was never really the man who found the killer ball for Barça.
If Aleñá gets enough playing time, he can become that player for Barça. De Jong is expected to move into the holding role that Busquets occupied for all these players, and that will leave an empty space in Barça’s 3-man midfield.
That will be Aleñá’s big opportunity to fulfill his potential. In that sense, Rakitić’s impending departure can liberate him. The 31-year old playmaker has been a loyal servant to Barça, but it is time that he makes way for the next generation of players.