Ousmane Dembele and Eden Hazard head the list of direct Barcelona replacements for Neymar

We analyse five of the best options for Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde to replace the PSG-bound star

Andy West
by Andy West
4th August 2017

article:4th August 2017

Neymar has completed his box office €222million move to Paris Saint-Germain and it means Barcelona are left with money to burn.

We look at the five signings boss Ernesto Valverde could make to replace Neymar.


OUSMANE DEMBELE

Although he is perhaps the least celebrated of Neymar’s potential replacements, the 20-year-old Borussia Dortmund star may well be the best long-term option.

Dembele’s ability to beat defenders with either pace or trickery allow him to add dangerous penetration to any attack, and the prospect of him racing onto Lionel Messi through balls is extremely enticing.

But Dembele is also raw and inexperienced, having played just two years at senior level, and it is unrealistic to expect him to immediately start playing 50 games per campaign for Barca – especially as he’d have to switch positions from the right flank to the left.

If they are prepared to nurture his undoubted talent, however, the Catalan side could land themselves with an unpolished gem – and the kind of player new boss Ernesto Valverde has succeeded in developing well in the past.

And although Dortmund would be reluctant to lose a player they only signed a year ago, they would not be able to withstand a serious offer from Barca if the Camp Nou club pursue him vigorously.

ANTOINE GRIEZMANN

With the greatest respect to Atletico Madrid, there has always been a sense that Griezmann is too good a player to stay with his current club for too much longer.

Indeed, Griezmann came extremely close to joining Manchester United earlier this summer before the move was scotched by Atletico’s transfer ban from FIFA being upheld.

Griezmann declined the opportunity to join United because he didn’t want to leave Atletico at a time when they’d be unable to sign a replacement, and there’s little reason to think he’d backtrack on that decision so quickly.

So, however perfect Griezmann might be for Barca considering his age, experience, versatile skill set and familiarity with La Liga, it almost certainly won’t happen.

Antoine Griezmann

PAULO DYBALA

The Juventus star has been long linked with Camp Nou, with stories of their supposed interest predictably intensifying after he scored two brilliant goals to mastermind Juve’s Champions League quarter-final victory over Barca in the spring.

There’s little doubt that Barca have closely tracked the progress of the 23-year-old for several months, and a move this summer would be no surprise.

However, for all the abilities possessed by Dybala, playing on the left flank is not one – or not one that we’ve seen so far.

He is, therefore, more likely to be a player Barca sign in addition to a Neymar replacement, rather than being the man they seek to fill the new vacancy on the left wing.

Considering their similar styles, there must also be a question mark over how Dybala and Lionel Messi can function together in the same team, something which has rarely looked like working well at international level.

Paulo Dybala

KYLIAN MBAPPE

Without doubt the biggest breakthrough talent in world football last season was the Monaco starlet, so it’s inevitable that Barca are reportedly ready to splurge a large chunk of their new transfer coffers on him.

Furthermore, although he’s more commonly been fielded as a central striker, Mbappe’s movement and mobility should allow him to adapt pretty easily to the left-sided role in a front three.

But there’s a big problem in this potential move, and it’s called Real Madrid.

Barca’s eternal rivals – and specifically the forward’s compatriot manager Zinedine Zidane – have been tracking Mbappe for years, and Los Blancos are surely well ahead in the race for his signature.

Madrid would not have sold Alvaro Morata if they didn’t believe that Mbappe was within reach, and losing out to Barcelona for his services seems almost implausible.

EDEN HAZARD

Over the last few years, alongside Neymar the best left-sided attackers in world football has probably been Chelsea’s electric but occasionally enigmatic Belgian.

And in terms of a like for like replacement who could immediately step in and fill the same role, he’s probably the best option Barca could hope for.

Hazard has also been regularly linked with a move to Spain – albeit to Real Madrid, not Barcelona – and his relationship with Antonio Conte has not always been plain sailing.

Chelsea will be reluctant to sell and the London club’s financial might puts them in a position of strength but, as we’ve seen with Neymar, players now possess an immense amount of power.

So if Barca are prepared to break the bank, landing Hazard is a distinct possibility.

Eden Hazard


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