It’s been an interesting summer to say the least at Barcelona.
The Catalan giants need to raise some serious cash before they can afford to register new signings Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia, while they also need to get players off the wage budget just so they can re-register Lionel Messi – who is technically a free agent following the expiry of his contract..
There is still hope that they will get there, but raising enough money to cover costs and slashing the current wage bill to fall in line with La Liga’s strict but necessary salary cap will have to come through player sales, with Antoine Griezmann the most obvious sacrifice to make.
Philippe Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti, Clement Lenglet, Sergino Dest and Sergi Roberto are others that have been linked with exits. Ousmane Dembele would be on that list as well had his most recent injury setback required surgery ruling him out until the end of October.
Departures could create quite a significant squad shake-up, making Barça look considerably different. Here’s a look at the squad numbers that could available to the new arrivals.
Aguero has worn number 10 for most of his club career, having it at Independiente as a 16 and 17-year-old, then at Atletico Madrid and eventually Manchester City as well.
He obviously cannot have 10 at Barça because it is synonymous with Messi and re-registering the six-time Ballon d’Or winner takes priority over any of the new signings.
The only other number Aguero has worn during his club career is 16, which he had during his first four years in Manchester. That currently belongs to Pedri at Camp Nou, although it is believable that the teenage prodigy could switch to either six or eight ahead of the new season to follow in the footsteps of Camp Nou legends Xavi or Andres Iniesta.
Aguero has also frequently worn nine at international level in recent years, which could be a strong option at Barça should Martin Braithwaite be persuaded to take a different jersey, the vacant 19 perhaps. Alternatively, Aguero has also worn 19 for Argentina in the past.
Best plausible options: 9, 16
If Griezmann goes, and that does seem absolutely crucial to Barça’s immediate short-term financial health, the number seven would be an obvious shirt for Memphis to take over.
He has worn it in the past for Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Manchester United and may consider to have unfinished business in it after his spell at the latter failed to live up to expectation.
Like Aguero, Memphis also has a strong connection with the number 10 after making it usual jersey at international level in recent years. For the same reason as Aguero, he won’t get it at Barça.
The Dutchman wore 11 at Lyon, which is currently occupied at Camp Nou by Dembele, who will return to fitness in the autumn and could yet have a role of his own to play. Another option for Memphis could be 22 if Ansu Fati trades down to a lower number, perhaps seven.
Best plausible options: 7, 22
Garcia wore 50 for Manchester City, although Barça first-team players are usually assigned shirt numbers up to a maximum of 24, with higher digits worn by B teamers promoted mid-season.
If number six remains available and isn’t taken by Pedri or another current player, that could be a likely option for the centre-back returning to his boyhood club.
If Lenglet moves on, 15 would be available, while 16 would be if Pedri gets a new shirt.
Best plausible options: 6, 15, 16