In a year of major continental championships, it’s not often that big deals take place before the middle of July, and yet this season, the free agents market is filled with talent.
While contracts don’t expire until the end of June, many players have been permitted to negotiate with other clubs, with their old clubs allowing them to depart or finalize early.
Barcelona has been able to snag two of the hottest properties on the free agents market who have decided that they will leave their old team.
Coming over from the Premier League champions, Manchester City’s legendary striker Sergio Agüero, and their top young center-back prospect Eric García, have arrived at Camp Nou, as detailed by goal.com.
Even with these talents joining the squad, is there enough to haul Barça back to the top of La Liga and Europe?
City’s loss is Barça’s gain
Without a doubt, Agüero has been Manchester City’s most influential player in their rise from relative mediocrity to Champions League competitors, following a huge injection of money from new owners.
Since joining from Atlético Madrid, the Argentinean has scored 260 goals and made 73 assists in 390 games, which is unprecedented at a Premier League club.
While he struggled to adapt to the arrival of Pep Guardiola initially and suffered from knee injuries and an illness last season, he’s remained a regular scorer and talisman for City.
In La Liga, he’ll almost certainly find more space and get back his knack for scoring goals in bucket loads – even if he is now 33-years-old.
Eric García arrives having spent little time in City’s starting XI during last season’s title-winning campaign.
In the 2019/20 season, however, amidst the backdrop of a runaway Liverpool winning the title, the Spaniard became a trusted center-back for Guardiola, playing 20 times that year.
It is perhaps because of these additions that Barcelona stands as the highest-rated Spanish team.
In the UEFA Champions League odds from Marathonbet UK, Barça is at 14/1 to win the prestigious tournament, with Real Madrid back at 17/1 and the La Liga champions, Atlético Madrid, way down at 30/1.
Still, though, is the team good enough to conquer both Spain and Europe?
Goals, goals, goals
Barcelona didn’t struggle for goals by any stretch of the imagination, scoring 85 in total – 18 more than either of the Madrid clubs.
That said, they failed to score against Atlético on both occasions in La Liga and could only muster two goals across both losses to Real.
Losses saw Barça held in check, but the problems could be far worse next season.
The news that everyone’s awaiting is if Lionel Messi will stay with the club.
As detailed by the guardian, he didn’t want to stay last season and will soon be a free agent. If he goes, the heart of the team’s attack, so too will the 38 goals and 14 assists that he provided in 2020/21.
In La Liga alone, he was directly responsible for 41 of their 85 goals. As good as Agüero is at scoring goals, he can’t replicate that output.
As noted, conceding goals was a big problem for Barcelona last season.
Marc-André terStegen enjoyed a decent campaign, stopping 70.91 percent of the 108 shots on target that he faced.
The defense, though, was slow and inconsistent.
Gerard Piqué’s showing his age at 34-years-old, not being quick off of the mark and succumbing to long-term injuries.
Alongside him, Samuel Umtiti and Clément Lenglet have struggled to live up to expectations, but García certainly isn’t an instant solution here.
If Messi departs, it’s tough to see Barcelona recovering, but even if he stays, the defense needs renovating.