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Ziyech and Werner on Barca’s radar for January as club look for Raheem Sterling alternatives

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 04: Hakim Ziyech of Chelsea celebrates a with Timo Werner (Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

According to ESPN, the Chelsea duo has emerged as winter targets for FC Barcelona as they look to bolster their front line in the January transfer window. This is part of a signing policy by the Catalan club to target players out of favour at their current club who can arrive on an initial loan basis.  

Barca initially tried to initiate the signing of Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling in the summer but the cost of the operation and the English club’s reluctance to part with Sterling mean that any deal is unlikely to be concluded. The Blaugrana will again revisit Sterling as an option in January and the coming summer, but City will not be convinced with the ‘loan with obligation to buy’ structure Barca are hoping to complete signings with.   

This opens an avenue for the signings of Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner as alternatives. The Chelsea men have seen their playing time cut this season as Thomas Tuchel’s plans seem not to include the two forwards who played a larger part last season. Barca has asked about the availability of both as they hope being pushed to the fringes will make the duo more open to moving away.  

ESPN has also reported that as Cesar Azpilicueta is in the final season of his contract, Barca is monitoring his situation with Xavi hoping to land the veteran Spanish defender on a free transfer next summer.  

The immediate priority however is the attack, with Xavi looking to strengthen a front line that has been depleted due to the departure of Messi and Griezmann as well as the constant injuries to Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele. Any signings however are hindered by the club’s financial situation with Barca needing to free up money to sign players in accordance with the salary cap. Barcelona director of football Mateu Alemany commented this week that as things stand, no new signings will be able to be confirmed when the transfer window opens on January 1st.  

The recent arrival of Dani Alves on a free transfer as well as Xavi and his backroom staff has pushed Barca’s financials to the limit with them being on the brink of going over the La Liga spending limit. Whilst there are means to increase their spending limit, through new sponsors, for example, ESPN reports that the club is primarily focused on moving players not part of Xavi’s plans off the wage bill.