As an old proverb says, “Don’t keep all the eggs in one basket,” similar was the condition with Barcelona this summer. The only difference was that Barcelona only had one egg to target, but failed to keep it alive too. Ever since Barcelona stepped into the summer transfer window, it was widely advocated that they would target Coutinho as someone who can link the play to the famous trio up the field as the midfield was relatively less creative last season which forced Messi and Neymar to drop down on multiple occasions during the entire course of previous season. Barcelona was keen to add the Brazilian to the squad and had all plans to lure him away from Anfield. But in what was the most shocking move Neymar left for Paris leaving a big loophole in the final third at Barcelona. The Barcelona bids for the Brazilian playmaker gathered pace ever since as they had an additional responsibility to fulfill the void of Neymar, which many believed he could do well along with new man Dembele. With bids being rejected by Liverpool on each occasion, Barcelona was adamant to land their man. The bids almost doubled up from €75 million to almost €150 million but anyways the 25-year old was forced to extend his stay at Merseyside. What the big question is that did Barcelona go wrong by keeping alternatives, the answer to which would probably be yes. Now let’s take a look at some options that could have fitted well into the role Coutinho was bound to play.
#1. Angel Di Maria
If anyone talks about the Wings or the Attacking Midfield area, not many can match the quality of Di Maria. The former Real Madrid man could have been available for a region of €50-60 million, and every bit on that account could have been well paid off by the Argentine. The 29-year old forms a formidable partnership with Messi while playing in the national colors, both on and off the field and could have well transformed it into the Camp Nou proceedings. Di Maria had been in stellar form for the Parisians ever since he made his move away from the Old Trafford scoring 28 goals for them. Even though Barcelona had their bid rejected for the player, but a more serious and conscious move could have paved the way for Di Maria for a return to the La Liga.
#2. Lorenzo Insigne
The 26-year old may not be the most discussed face in Europe as he plays for Napoli, but you can’t anything away from the Italian as far his talent is concerned. The youth product from Napoli, Insigne has been the driving force in the Napoli side over a past few years. Capable of playing in the wings or being deployed as an Attacking Midfielder, Insigne is someone who doesn’t upset anyone on any occasion. Insigne could have been the ideal alternative to Coutinho who could have been available for a relatively lesser amount. He is considered as one of the best Italy has produced over a decade and Barcelona could have been a stage for him to shine. A player like Insigne who has loads of experience at top flight is someone really good the Catalans missed on.
#3. Thomas Lemar
The prime target for Arsenal this summer, the 21-year old was the center of attraction this transfer window but somehow ended up at Monaco. Again basically a winger also capable in a role of Attacking Mid, Lemar was instrumental in Monaco ending up in the Champions League semis and dethroning PSG off the Ligue 1 title last year. The youngster is a part of the many talents France have produced lately. With bids reaching ₤92 million for him on the deadline day, Lemar perfectly showcased what he is capable of with a brace against The Netherlands on his fifth appearance for the Les Blues. With 15 goals last season, the lucrative Frenchman is someone Barcelona missed on that account while on an endless run behind Coutinho.
#4. Christian Eriksen
Probably the best Denmark player at the moment, the 25-year old has established himself at a bigger stage during his stint at Tottenham. The Dane had scored 12 goals last campaign but more importantly, he was the man behind the goal scoring spree of Harry Kane, putting up assists more often than not. The player comfortable as an Attacking Midfielder could have well been another player Barcelona could have linked up to. Eriksen could have been available for something lesser than Coutinho and could have proved equal the worth, providing crucial assists for Messi and Suarez up the field. In the most recent encounter against Poland, Eriksen was the man behind the 4-0 demolition of the 5th ranked side in the world.
#5. Dele Alli
The England international is another member of the good Spurs squad, capable of being played as an Attacking Midfielder Alli is someone to look forward in the future. Alli was voted twice as the PFA Best Young Player and had scored 22 goals last season and was important for them finishing second. Alli is widely regarded as the best young player in England and could have been available for anything around ₤75 million. The youngster could have been pivotal for the Catalan side and also someone to bet up for the future. The newly capped England international another player who Barcelona missed out in the cat and mouse race of Coutinho. Even some rumors suggested that Messi preferred Alli over Coutinho this transfer window.
#6. Eden Hazard
Though Hazard may not have been like for like replacement for Coutinho as he prefers the wing more than the center, still could have been a good addition to the Camp Nou outfit. Hazard was instrumental in Chelsea’s title winning adventure last season netting a total of 17 goals. With his exceptional dribbling and control, the Belgian can breeze past any defense on his day. the 26-year old is considered as one of the contenders for the Ballon D’or post the Ronaldo-Messi era. Hazard was linked to Real Madrid before the season but an injury just after the season and the rise of Asensio just halted the move to the Spanish Capital. Barcelona had an ideal chance to grab the man for a region of ₤100 million or a bit more if needed to get him. Even Chelsea manager Conte had admitted that it would be difficult to stop him from moving, but it was complete negligence from Barcelona who failed to pounce on the move.
#7. Julian Draxler
The ambidextrous German is someone who could have been targeted by Barcelona. The German who moved from Wolfsburg to PSG in January had insecurities regarding playing time after Neymar moved in. Basically, a left winger capable of being a midfielder as he was in the run to the Confederation Cup win this year could have suited the bill at Camp Nou. The German managed to net 10 times on 25 appearances for the Parisians and the 24-year old World Cup winner was the hot prodigy in the transfer season with numerous club behind his signature. It was reported that his agent was in Barcelona to discuss a move which was not taken seriously by the Catalans. Now the German is yet another addition to the list of alternatives for Coutinho Barcelona failed to capitalize on. Anything around ₤40-50 million could have been good enough for the PSG man.
#8. Antoine Griezmann
Another player who makes into the list is the French forward, anyway not an exact alternative for Coutinho the player of his caliber would have been a welcome addition to the Camp Nou. The Frenchman is someone regularly up with goals and with he coming into the squad could have pushed Messi into more of a playmaker role and Griezmann up the field. The 26-year old is someone who could have been difficult to get as Manchester United were too warded off by Simeone as Atletico Madrid face a transfer ban until January, but Barcelona with their financial might and money earned on Neymar transfer could have well tried and made a move for the talented French Number 7.
#9. Paulo Dybala
One of the sweetest left foot, the young Argentine is the possible successor to Messi as many consider. Dybala is more like what Griezmann is to Atletico when he plays for Juventus just behind Higuain. The 23-year old rose to prominence last season with Juventus heading to the Champions League final last season. If Dybala was to come to Barcelona, Messi would have dropped deeper or Dybala could have played a role to Suarez of what he does to Higuain. But once again one has to admit he was not an easy target as he recently renewed his contract which runs until 2022. More recently he was given the iconic number 10 by the Turin side in an effort to tie him to the club for a prolonged period. But again if Barcelona ran after Coutinho whole season long, they could have made an effort to lure Messi’s international teammate to the Camp Nou.
There could have been more players who could have been an alternative to Coutinho, but Barcelona failed to land any of them and have taken themselves into a huge trouble by failing to have a world class signing this window and there might be big challenges to come this season around for them.
The post With Coutinho always in doubt to come, who else could have Barcelona targeted appeared first on The12thMan.