Luis Enrique right to demand new forward in January transfer window

Luis Enrique right to demand new forward in January transfer window
Luis Enrique right to demand new forward in January transfer window
Everything is running smoothly for Barcelona on the pitch at present. Luis Enrique's side have won ten of their last twelve matches and have scored 40...

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Everything is running smoothly for Barcelona on the pitch at present. Luis Enrique's side have won ten of their last twelve matches and have scored 40 goals over that period. It isn't just the irresistible attacking force that is responsible for this run of form of course. 

Although the 1-1 late draw at Valencia's Mestalla stadium was disappointing, the defence has been generally sold, only conceding six goals in that run. The midfield is also providing excellent support both defensively and offensively with every player seemingly playing to the best of their abilities.

So on the face of it, any reinforcements to the squad may not seem a matter of great urgency. However with half of the season still to go, Luis Enrique will rightly feel that he needs to add more numbers to what is a relatively small squad. With the Catalan giants looking to secure a second successive treble, the risk of injury and fatigue will inevitably intensify as the season wears on but the Barcelona boss may find himself frustrated when it comes to recruitment at the Camp Nou in January.

Having the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez in the squad obviously pays dividends when it comes to success on the pitch. If there is a downside to employing arguably the top three players on the planet however, it is the astronomical salaries their extraordinary talents demand. The club's wage bill is reportedly now over 70 percent of their revenue and the planned refurbishment of the Camp Nou at an estimated cost of €587 million is also stretching the club's finances to breaking point.

These huge outgoings have inevitably forced the club to save money elsewhere and that looks likely to limit the transfer activity Luis Enrique desires in the January transfer market. 

The good news for the treble-winning coach is that he will finally be able to utilise the talents of Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan. They are of course yet to make their Blaugrana debuts after signing in the summer due to the transfer embargo placed on the club. These are players who have the talent to not only be a backup for the starting eleven, but to be pushing for a regular first-team places.

However, Luis Enrique would also like to bring a new striker in as cover for the front three of Messi, Neymar and Suarez. Finding the right player may prove to be problematic for the head coach though. It will be difficult to find a striker good enough to come in and replace one of the three superstars when required, yet who is also happy enough to sit on the bench and await his chance. 

Pedro was the perfect type of player for this role in the squad last season but unsurprisingly got tired of being unable to hold down a starting spot before eventually moving to Chelsea in the summer.

Luis Enrique's plans will also be hampered by therevelation that club technical director Robert Fernandez plan seems to be to bring a player in on loan with the option of signing at the end of the season. January is a tetchy time to be signing players with players possessing the required ability to play for the Catalan giants a difficult task.

FC Basel's Breel Embolo has been touted as a possible target. The 18-year-old Swiss international has plenty of potential, but the rumoured €20 million transfer fee his club are looking for would likely to put Barca off for the moment. 

There is also good news for Luis Enrique, however, and that is the improving form of the young players already at the club. Sergio Roberto was outstanding on the right-hand side of a forward three in the 4-0 demolition of Real Madrid. Fellow La Masia graduates Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez impressed in the 6-1 victory over Villanovense each scoring a brace apiece.

Whether the Blaugrana manager feels he can rely on his young stars to come in and perform in crucial matches against top opposition during the latter part of the season however, is up for debate. Established stars such as Robin Van Persie have been mentioned as possible targets in recent months, but the Dutchman is a fading force and is still likely to carry the mentality of a player who feels he should be in the starting eleven every week.  

At present, everything is going well for Barcelona as they dominate La Liga and the Champions League with performances that can take the breath away. But one or two crucial injuries to the Camp Nou's striking trio down the line may see that dominance take a downturn. 

Football has taught us down the years that clubs rarely maintain dominance by standing still. Let's trust that Luis Enrique can find the right player to ease those fears as, otherwise, extending the current run of positive results will inevitably become increasingly difficult.


By Aaron Attwood, columnist at Barcablog. Follow him on Twitter @ajattwood