Is Gameiro the best choice for Barça's 4th forward?
Now that Barça have bought a centre-back (Samuel Umtiti), a left-back (Lucas Digne) and a midfielder (Denis Suárez), the Blaugranas are looking to finally reinforce their attacking line with a 4th forward that would enable Neymar, Messi and Suárez to catch some rest and avoid overcharge. But here is the main difficulty for Barça officials to convince a talented player to come and join the squad, only to be Luis Enrique's fourth option. Nolito seemed to be the number one choice for the Asturian coach, but the perspective of spending more time on the bench than on the pitch didn't really get him conquered, and he preferred to go overseas and play for Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.
Another option that was mentioned to Luis Enrique's ears was Sevilla's Frenchman Kevin Gameiro. Out of the Euros because Didier Deschamps doesn't see him fit in his French squad, the striker had his summer taken by rumours sending him to Camp Nou. But it is not as simple, and his price is a problem for Barça's transfer budget. What would Gameiro bring that could justify buying him? And would he be the best option right now for Luis Enrique?
Too expensive for a substitute
Even though Barça managed to clear some budget for this summer's transfer window, the means of the Catalan club are not as big as the top Premier League clubs, who can afford to overpay players even though it leads them sometimes to making mistakes and bringing in players that don't confirm the expectations later on. Although he is a quality striker, Kevin Gameiro is probably too expensive to be a substitute, even in a club like FC Barcelona. Aged 29, the Frenchman has arrived in Sevilla in 2013 and won the Europa League 3 times in a row with his Andalusian club. He got stronger and stronger each year so as to become the number one option in Unai Emery's mind. The Basque coach left to PSG and Jorge Sampaoli arrived, but there is not many doubts as for his idea of the French player. With the Chilean manager, Gameiro is set to be a starter this season again. A much more enjoyable situation than being a substitute in Barça. Besides, the clause set by Sevilla is too high (40 million Euros), and it would probably take an effort from the Barça Board on his wage to convince him to come. Yet, it could be worth the gamble.
A true goal scorer
He might not be as technically skilled as Karim Benzema, or tall as Olivier Giroud, but Kevin Gameiro is amongst the top goalscorers in France, fourth in all competitions behind André-Pierre Gignac - who plays in the modest Mexican league - Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema. A true indicator of his lethal efficiency in front of the goal. His display in the latest Europa League edition proved that he had what it takes to go to the Euros, with Benzema left on the flank after his affairs regarding teammate Mathieu Valbuena. Still, Didier Deschamps chose to go for continuity - with a final in the end - and kept Olivier Giroud, present in the squad since 2011. In Barça, Gameiro would be a quality replacement for Luis Suárez, one of the best goal scorers on the planet. Also, Gameiro is very intelligent and likes to be complementary with his teammates. The quick transition style of Barça, with one-two passes and short touches would probably fit him perfectly.
Used to the pressure
After Gameiro left Lorient in 2011, where he was the number one player and an authentic living legend, (sporting) life hasn't been always easy on Kevin. He got in a club - PSG - that changed dimensions with the arrival of Qatar investors. Also, there was another big obstacle whose name is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede arrived just a year after Gameiro, becoming the undisputed starter. Even though he didn't manage to get a starting position in Carlo Ancelotti's squad, and chose to leave France to try his luck in La Liga, this experience helped him a lot mentally, to make him today one of Europe's top strikers. With a lot of experience already and many trophies, Kevin Gameiro wouldn't be too impressed if he were to join the Blaugranas.
He keeps getting better
Normally, the age of maturity for a football player, even more so for a striker, is 28 years old. Gameiro has just gone past this mark and yet he keeps on improving. The work of Unai Emery in Sevilla, just like Diego Simeone did for Antoine Griezmann, was a huge boost for the former Lorient striker, and the days when French press didn't see him as valid competition for Zlatan in PSG are long gone. There is no doubt that if Gameiro joined Barça, he would improve even more, at the contact of tremendous world class players like Messi, Neymar and Suárez. His position as a fourth forward, a super sub, could help him adapt to the system and play without much pressure, expressing therefore his capacities to their fullest. Also, his quickness and taste for deep spaces could prove lethal when the opponent gets tired out, and when the time comes to give the final blow.
In other terms, Kevin Gameiro is a very interesting option for Barça to consider, and the fact they came back at him after seeing other opportunities vanish is a proof of his value. The problem is not his talent, nor his efficiency, but the price Sevilla are willing to sell him for. Also, the player is yet to be convinced to play as an ultimate substitute, a joker that would have very few minutes during the season. Barça are trying to lower his transfer fee to 25 million Euros, but it will be difficult to achieve. At that price, Gameiro would definitely be a great solution to give some rest to the Trident without losing too much quality up front.