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Barcelona’s quest for balance as the search for a left winger

Gabriel Martinelli (left), Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (middle), Kaoru Mitoma (right) / Edit done by GOAL
Gabriel Martinelli (left), Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (middle), Kaoru Mitoma (right) / Edit done by GOAL

Barcelona are tracking three top wingers to reinforce the squad this summer.

Barcelona has suffered from a lack of balance on the wings this season and is keen on signing a left winger for the upcoming season. Ousmane Dembélé’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain was a significant loss for Xavi Hernández, who had full confidence in his ability to dominate the wing. The Frenchman activated his €50.4 million release clause in the second week of August, leaving Lamine Yamal as the sole right winger.

Dembélé, perhaps the best ambidextrous player on the continent, could also play on the left. Ansu Fati also operated there, but he too left the club on the brink of the summer transfer window, joining Brighton on loan. In his place came Joao Félix, who possesses footballing qualities to play more from the outside towards the inside rather than hugging the touchline like Ansu did in his prime. Ferran Torres, primarily an right winger, has also played on the left flank but tends not to stretch the field to exploit his goal-scoring ability, often arriving diagonally. The prevailing idea at the top echelons of the club is to stick with the 4-3-3 formation, necessitating a pure left winger who can bring dribbling skills and unexpected situations for the opponent.

Additionally, this player should contribute significantly in terms of goals, alleviating the burden on the center forwards, especially considering the midfielders’ lack of prolificacy. Several players have caught the attention of Barcelona’s board, meeting the criteria in case a return to the 1-1 salary cap rule is enforced. Mohamed Salah of Liverpool is considered the best for either wing, but his cost makes him unrealistic.

According to Fernando Polo of Mundo Deportivo, the club closely monitors Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal, a 22-year-old Brazilian with a contract until 2027, who has scored seven goals this season and 15 in the previous one. Another candidate is Georgian Khvicha Kvaratskhelia of Napoli, who, despite being tied until 2027, at 23 years old, may be ready for a move to a bigger club after an impressive season with 14 goals and 17 assists. He is among the lowest earners at his current team, and his agent has hinted at his motivation to play for Barcelona or Real Madrid. In Spain, Nico Williams renewed his contract with Athletic Club until 2027 in December, but Barcelona has ruled out his signing due to financial constraints.

If funds are limited, another option could be the return of Ansu Fati after his loan spell at Brighton, although the pursuit of a left winger suggests it may not be a priority. Also in the mix is Japanese player Kaouru Mitoma, 23, whose contract runs until 2027. In October according to Fernando Polo of Mundo Deportivo, he is highly regarded by Barcelona, who are keeping tabs on three young wingers.