How do Barça move on from Ousmane Dembélé?

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JULY 29: Barcelona FC first eleven pose during the pre-season friendly match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at AT&T Stadium on July 29, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Juan Finol/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JULY 29: Barcelona FC first eleven pose during the pre-season friendly match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at AT&T Stadium on July 29, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Juan Finol/Getty Images) /

Well, it’s happening. The move many FC Barcelona fans speculated about (and secretly hoped for) may be on the verge of finally happening. Despite recent reports to the contrary, Ousmane Dembélé is now virtually guaranteed to join Paris Saint-Germain this summer. The Barça higher-ups have given PSG five days to negotiate a fair deal for the French winger’s services. Past this, they’ll have to cough up Dembélé’s entire €100 million release clause. This would be a tremendous deal for the Catalans, and would give them €50 million in funds to spend on incoming players this transfer window.

In reality, the fee will probably be around the €70 million range (as an educated guess). However, these proceedings have opened up a whole new line of questioning. Do Barça need to invest that money back into a winger to replace Dembélé?

Reports from Spain are claiming that Xavi does, in fact, want another forward.

But let’s step back. Does the squad really need another forward?

There’s been talk about Lamine Yamal, for good reason, but he’s much too young to expect consistency from him. The current team, excluding Dembélé, has 4 wingers with any chance to play significant minutes: Ferran Torres, Ansu Fati, Abde, and Raphinha. Two of them are more uniquely suited to the LW position, so we can somewhat discard Ansu and Abde. That leaves us with Raphinha and Ferran at the RW.

Question is, will that be enough?

Well, Raphinha was quite underrated for Barça last season. In a new environment, and not as a regular starter, he ended up with 10 goals and 12 assists, which was very good. What about Ferran? He’s got experience playing on the right, and does have some good qualities there. His work rate is high, and he finished with 7 goals and 3 assists last season. While I’m not thrilled at the prospect, I suppose Ferran is a capable backup.

Ferran has been playing more centrally this preseason, but that may have to adjust now. Especially if Vitor Roque does end up joining the squad this summer (unlikely) or this winter (more likely).

But let’s go back to that report that Xavi still wants another midfielder, and in particular, one: Bernardo Silva. His signing for the club now makes much more sense with the departure of Dembélé. Bernardo is a left-footed interior that plays on the right, with experience playing RW for the Portuguese national team. He’s versatile, smart, can dribble, and would fit in quite well at Barça.

Selling Dembélé for a higher fee would open up the possibility, while still somewhat unlikely, for Bernardo to join. That would change the team sheet math here significantly. It would make for an extremely competitive midfield rotation, as well as a compelling RW rotation. It could also allow Ferran to play more centrally for now. It would essentially kill three of Xavi’s birds with one stone.

Besides, as the stats above show, Barça’s wingers are more than capable of filling a Dembélé-sized hole. They would have the pace and dribbling of Abde, the goal-scoring threat of Ansu, and the overall exellence and assists of Raphinha.

The further sales of Franck Kessié and Clément Lenglet would also facilitate the signing of a right-back like Iván Fresneda. Bernardo Silva and Fresneda, to go along with Romeu, Gündoğan, and Roque, would be a perfect transfer window (on paper, at least). A good mix of veterans and promising youngsters.

Therefore, in my opinion, it wouldn’t be necessary at all to do a panic buy of another winger. The signing of someone like João Félix would 1. not make any sense and 2. be a reactionary buy that wouldn’t allow real problems to be solved.

We’re perfectly capable of fielding a great team with just a few smart moves, and I don’t think another winger is one of them – even with the departure of Dembélé.

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What moves do you think we should make on the back of this Dembélé news? Let us know in the comments below.