Can Ross Barkley Replace The Injured Ousmane Dembele On The Wings?
The summer transfer window of 2017 was quite a rollercoaster ride. Clubs splashed money like nobody’s business as the drama surrounding transfers only intensified. The turning point, however, has to be when Neymar announced his shock decision to join Paris Saint-Germain for a world record fee of £200m. Barcelona fans were stunned while rival fans looked on in glee.
It paved way for an interesting situation for the neutrals, but then Barcelona announced a £135m deal for the young Ousmane Dembele, in an attempt to replace Neymar. All hell broke loose yet again.
Fans were worried as to how a player as inexperienced as Dembele could possibly fill Neymar’s void. Critics voiced their opinions as to how people should give Dembele time to settle in. The youngster did get ample time to do so, but unfortunately for the club and Ernesto Valverde, the player endured a dreadful injury just when he was starting to find his groove at Camp Nou.
Now that he is likely to be sidelined for about four months, Gerard Deulofeu is Valverde’s most recognised option to be deployed on the left side – which is a worrisome prospect, to say the least. Deulofeu lacks attacking strength and precision. While he does a decent job, he is not great at it. Filling the void left by Neymar was never going to be easy but there may still be some hope for the manager in the form of Everton’s Ross Barkley.
Straight off the bat, Barkley is deployed more as an attacking midfielder whereas Dembele plays on the right for Barcelona (he did in 3 of his 4 appearances). That positional difference itself could either make or break their attack.
One obvious possibility will be to, of course, deploy Barkley on the right to see how he does. Besides that, there are other alternatives but Valverde would have to make several significant changes to their attack.
Since Luis Suarez has been struggling as a central striker, Valverde could perhaps interchange his position with Messi’s while playing Deulofeu or Alcacer on the left. Barkley, meanwhile, can play as the attacking midfielder.
In most of Barcelona’s matches, Messi never stays stagnant and moves around to score goals – sometimes even overlapping Suarez. One cannot really blame him, considering how the team is strongly dependent on him. Thus, using him in the centre with Suarez and Deulofeu or Alcacer on either side, can prove to be better for all parties involved.
It is unsure as to how Barkley will fare on the wings. He will either be a success or a failure, and Barcelona cannot afford the luxury of taking a risk as big as that right now. Moreover, Dembele will return in a matter of four months. They have already spent quite a hefty amount to secure his services, so making a move for Barkley may not be the best option, especially since Barkley will not be a like-for-like replacement.