Barcelona: Koeman hopes Messi stays for 'many more years'
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Lionel Messi has reportedly put Barcelona at ease by agreeing to sign a new five-year deal with the Catalan club. Sources have confirmed to ESPN that the Argentinian maestro will be taking a significantly reduced wage packet, in return for a prolonged contract.
After a summer of uncertainty involving their finances, including a gross debt of €1billion, Barcelona will rejoice to know they have their captain back. Alongside Messi, the Catalan giants have also signed Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Emerson Royal and Eric Garcia. So now it is time for Express Sport to look at how Barcelona could line up next season.
Goalkeeper: Marc-Andre ter Stegen
The German goalkeeper has been a reliable servant for Barca since 2014 and has become first choice through his own hard work.
Ter Stegen achieved his 100th clean sheet for the Spanish side last season and has long been regarded as one of the best keepers in the world. With a buyout clause of around €500million, he won’t be leaving Barca soon
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Defenders: Jordi Alba, Eric Garcia, Ronald Araujo, Emerson Royal
Alba has been a loyal servant to Barcelona over the years and has been a consistently high performer at left-back.
Garcia will likely replace Clement Lenglet, who didn’t enjoy a good season with Barca or France at Euro 2020 and looks to be on his way out this summer. Araujo, who performed very well last season, will partner him at centre-back.
Emerson Royal, who impressed at Real Betis, will have tough competition between himself and Sergino Dest, however Koeman seems set to favour the Brazilian.
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Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong, Sergio Busquets, Pedri
De Jong has continued his rise to stardom last season. In his first 12 league appearances he managed a goal or assist in every game. In the Copa del Rey final, he outshone again by setting up two and scoring one himself. He must remain in Barcelona’s midfield if they are going to get back to winning ways.
Busquets will remain as Barcelona’s heart in midfield, despite a disappointing campaign for Spain at Euro 2020 and previous league campaign with Barca, the defensive midfielder will be desperate to make amends next season.
For Pedri, the world awaits what will become of this 18-year-old. Likened to Andres Iniesta, the young Spaniard made 52 appearances for the club last season, and despite a disappointing campaign, he may come into his own this season with an adolescent point to prove, and a hunger for trophies.
Forwards: Memphis Depay, Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero
With Messi, 34, now contracted to the club for another five years – arguably the rest of his career – he’ll want to cement his status as the best player of all time.
Now joined by his best friend Sergio Aguero, he may have rediscovered a partnership reminiscent of old striking pal Luis Suarez.
The ex-Manchester City striker is the highest non-English scorer in Premier League history, and now in a slower league, he could add a lot more to his La Liga tally.
Depay has been wanted by Koeman for a while, and now the Barca boss has got his wish, he’ll hope the Dutchman can bring with him the phenomenal form he showed at Lyon.
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