The issues run deep at Barcelona at the moment. From the financial struggles due to the coronavirus pandemic which has resulted in the departure of players, a failure to bring in adequate replacements, and Ronald Koeman’s horrible start to his tenure at the club, the team is far from the feared title contenders of years past. On top of it, there is the Lionel Messi situation with the player’s contract set to expire in the summer, and it could be just months before he ends up somewhere like Manchester City or PSG.
At the moment, Barca are seven points back of Atletico Madrid for first place in La Liga with Koeman’s team having played two more matches. The club cruised through an easy Champions League group but got hammered by Juventus in their last match. While they have found a little bit of form in the league, it all went down in flames with another blown chance at a title on Sunday. Barca fell 3-2 in extra time to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup to continue their trophy drought.
So where does this team go from here? Injuries and inconsistency in defense have plagued this team, but the most glaring issue is the relying on Lionel Messi and lack of cohesion and quality up top to bag goals.
Let’s be honest — Antoine Griezmann isn’t a true stirker, nor has he been even remotely good since his move before last season. When considering the team’s two top competitions in La Liga and UCL, he is averaging 0.27 goals per game with 18 strikes in 66 games. While at Atletico Madrid from 2014 to 2019, he averaged 0.51 goals per game, scoring 121 times in 236 games. His production, essentially, has been cut in half.
Messi’s longtime partner in attack, Luis Suarez, has been sensational at Atletico since his move this summer with nine goals in 13 La Liga games.
While Messi has 14 goals this season and is leading the way, others haven’t been living up to his standards. Before Griezmann’s two goals in Sunday’s final, he had just seven goals in 23 games, while no other player has scored more than five goals.
While Griezmann remains an important player for the club and will get his chances, there still needs to be somebody to clean up the mess in the box and provided a bit of a scoring threat that is missing with this undersized squad. So while Barca probably won’t go out and splash the cash in the winter transfer window, who are some strikers they should look at to try and solve their attacking woes? Here are five.
Raul de Tomas, Espanyol
I have always thought Raul de Tomas was one of the most underrated strikers in Europe. He is just 26 years old and continues to deliver despite having played for six different clubs. After starting his career out at Real Madrid and playing one game, he has gone to Cordoba, Valladolid, Rayo Vallecano, Benfica and currently Espanyol. He’s got 73 goals in the last five and a half seasons, while having scored 12 goals in 19 games this season in the Spanish second division. He’s got pace, an eye for goal and a great understanding of where to position himself for crosses from the wing.
He’s a better striker than Martin Braithwaite and could come in and provide double-digit goals during the second half of the season.
Arkadiusz Milik, Napoli
The former Napoli man has dealt with injuries and looks close to a move to Marseille, but he would be a low-risk signing due to a transfer fee likely around $10 million. There was a point in his career where he was a budding star after 57 goals across two seasons at Ajax. He had 20 goals for Napoli in 2018-19 as he found his form, but he hasn’t played a single game this season. He’s dealt with two big knee injuries and has missed a ton of games, but sometimes a change of scenery is all that is needed. He’s got some size to him and could be a strong presence in the air for the Catalan club.
Diego Costa, unattached
I know, I know. There is probably no way this would happen. But, still, with the need for a striker, who knows? Costa is a free agent and has dealt with injury issues that have limited him to just seven games this season. He hasn’t scored double-digit goals since 2016-17 and has just 19 goals since 2017. On paper, he is an upgrade to what they have and wouldn’t be a big risk from a financial standpoint. Crazier things have happened.
Willian Jose, Real Sociedad
The Brazilian striker looked like he was heading for stardom but has struggled this season with just four goals in 20 games. He’s scored double digit goals in every season since 2014-15, yet he doesn’t get the credit he deserves. While Real Sociedad’s goals mainly come from the midfield and the wing, he is more of a strong body that can shield the ball well, hold up play and deliver some fantastic goals with his head. He’s probably the most expensive player on the list, making him an unlikely signing.
Luuk de Jong, Sevilla
Koeman could go after a fellow Dutchman in de Jong, who was Sevilla’s Europa League hero last season. He had just six goals in 35 league games last season and only two in 17 this season. He has been just a cup scorer for Julen Lopetegui’s side, and at 30 years of age and with the emergence of Youssef En-Nesyri, maybe there is a deal to be made. Barca need something else in attack, some depth, an option that isn’t Braithwaite who wanders from the No. 9 position a bit too much. De Jong would be an interesting option, and negotiations would be simple to start between two clubs that have done a bunch of business in recent years.
Barcelona have until the end of the month to bring in and register new players for the second half of the season.