Barcelona defeated Atlético Madrid 2-1 at the Camp Nou in midweek to take another step towards the semi finals of the Champions League. The hard-fought win, coupled with Real Madrid's 0-2 loss at Wolfsburg, means the Catalans are now the only unbeaten team remaining in the competition and will hope to carry on this form till the end of the campaign.
An early goal from Fernando Torres brought out alarming gaps in our defense which must be fixed sooner than later. It took an inspired performance from Luis Suárez to bail out the team by twice putting the ball into the net. Luckily, Luis Enrique's half-time talk seemed to have been the decisive factor to put their disappointing 45 minutes behind them.
Despite being still involved in all three competitions, the transfer rumours are never too far away from the Camp Nou.
In an interview before the Real Sociedad match, Neymar revealed his desire to play alongside Frenchman Paul Pogba. Asked by La Liga about what player he hasn't swapped shirts with, Neymar replied: "Paul Pogba. He's a young player I like a lot and I would love to swap shirts with him. With whom would I like to play? With him. He's a player that would fit in very well at Barcelona."
Neymar and Pogba shared the pitch last year as two opposing finalists in the Champions League final in Berlin. Both players were nominated in the FIFPro World XI in 2016 and are regarded as the future of European football. The Brazilian captain also hailed Dani Alves as his best football friend and stressed that he enjoyed playing football with his world-class teammates.
Barca starlet Alen Halilovic, currently on loan to Sporting Gijon, is rumoured to be on his way to Valencia next season. The Croatian footballer's agent Zoran Stojadinovic explained that Los Che had shown interest in the player for next season. Valencia being one of the better sides in Spain will pose a new challenge to a talented Croatian youngster who, despite impressing this season, is not yet prepared for first team action for Barca just yet.
With that in mind, a one year loan would be in the interest of all parties involved as it would significantly aid the development of the talents of the future Barca star. If Halilovic continued to progress at the Mestalla, a chance to star alongisde Lionel Messi the following season would surely come his way.
Another player on the radar of the Barca scouts is Liverpool midfielder Cameron Brannagan. The U21 player has made his debut with the first team, last September against Bordeaux in the Europa League. Brannigan, only 19 years of age, arrived at Liverpool from the Kirkby Academy. Sources close to Liverpool say Barcelona representatives were watching him against Leicester at U21 level. The youngster will be a good addition to the Barca B squad for next season and depending upon the advancements he make, might as well be promoted to the first team.
Arda Turan arrived at Barcelona during this season's summer transfer window and played his first match in January of 2016. However, his time at the Camp Nou may be cut short due to a super-offer from the Chinese league. Turan, who has yet to cement his place in the starting line-up amid much criticism for his habit of racking up yellow cards, may find the offer enticing as the salary being offered is significantly higher than what he currently earns.
Luis Enrique, however, is reportedly opposed to the deal as he is known to be a admirer of the Turk's determination on the pitch and still counts on him for next season. If he wants to extend his time at the Camp Nou, the Turkish international needs to step up his game now more than ever with Rafinha also returning back from injury after a six-month lay-off. If the club management is able to pocket fees in the range of the figures they paid for Turan, then they should seriously consider it.
With the last quarter of the season underway, transfer rumours are understandably being thrown about left, right and centre. Always, only at the end of the season we shall be able to get a clear picture.
Although the names mentioned above would be an improvment, the board's priority for reinforcement must be bringing quality defenders. It's been years Barca signed a good enough defender who could make an immediate impact and secure his place in the starting XI -- It's time to get to work and rectify it!