Barcelona: Aubameyang, Cavani, Sterling – who will spearhead Xavi's attack?

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All Xavi wants for Christmas is a striker. 

Well actually he wants a lot more but Barcelona’s economic situation means they will only stretch to one significant piece of business in the window and the priority is an obvious one. 

Sergio Aguero has retired. Memphis Depay has not shown himself able to take on the central striking position Xavi wanted him to play. 

And there is a spectacular lack of chemistry between Xavi and Luuk de Jong which will see him leave the club in January back to Sevilla unless Barcelona can somehow use him to bring in another player. 

A new solution is needed. Here, Sportsmail looks at the options, how realistic or otherwise they are, and what the new No 9 might bring.

All Barcelona manager Xavi wants for Christmas is a new striker to fire his side up the table

All Barcelona manager Xavi wants for Christmas is a new striker to fire his side up the table

Edinson Cavani (Manchester United)

What he would bring?

He would bring experience and goals – the two biggest things missing from the current squad.

How genuine is the interest?

Barcelona Director of Football Mateu Alemany has identified him as the No 1 target, in part, because he’s potentially gettable now… unlike most of the other Barcelona targets.

Manchester United forward Edinson Cavani is a very realistic January transfer option for Barca

Manchester United forward Edinson Cavani is a very realistic January transfer option for Barca

How likely is the move?

It is in Ralf Rangnick’s hands. The player wants the move and Barcelona – not yet two years after getting rid of Cavani’s long-term national team strike partner Luis Suarez – also want it to happen. 

Rangnick seems keen on working with the Uruguayan but if he’s offered something better he might allow the Barca target to leave. 

The player might have to accept a lower salary until the end of this season while Barca try to lift their salary cap before next term.

Alexis Sanchez (Inter)

What he would bring?

Not a great deal of excitement for fans that is true. They see him as having failed last time so why would it be different now. 

If other options are exhausted then this would go down as being ‘better than nothing’, however. 

He knows the way Barca try to play and has some of qualities required to fit the role of centre forward in Xavi’s team, not that the Barca manager is too convinced.

Alexis Sanchez knows the way Barca try to play but fans view him as having failed last time

Alexis Sanchez knows the way Barca try to play but fans view him as having failed last time

How genuine is the interest?

He is on the list if other things don’t come off and there is the possibility of using De Jong to get him. 

Barca have loaned De Jong for a full season but – with Sevilla’s permission – they could loan him elsewhere for the second half of the season and Inter might be interested in a swap.

How likely is the move?

If other options fall apart don’t rule it out. He’s not the one that Xavi wants though.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

What he would bring?

He may have flopped in front of goal this season for Arsenal but desperate Barcelona fans want to believe that, with the service he would get playing for them, he would score plenty of goals. 

He may not be worthy of the captain’s armband at Arsenal now but he did enough to earn it in the past.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's £350,000-a-week wages are still a big barrier for Spanish side

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s £350,000-a-week wages are still a big barrier for Spanish side

How genuine is the interest?

A lot depends on what else is possible. Xavi believes Cavani is a safer bet but if Arsenal are more desperate to get rid of Aubameyang than United are of Cavani it’s possible.

How likely is the move?

Wages are still a big barrier. Barcelona cannot afford £350,000 a week in their current situation. 

The Africa Cup of Nations will also influence things. How long will he be away? And what will he do in the tournament to make his move to the Nou Camp more attractive to Barcelona supporters?

Dusan Vlahovic (Fiorentina)

What he would bring?

A proper centre forward for a team that has nothing similar.

The Serbian would be the perfect foil for the next generation of attacking midfielders and wingers who have emerged this season.

Dusan Vlahovic would be the perfect foil for the next generation of attacking stars at Barca

Dusan Vlahovic would be the perfect foil for the next generation of attacking stars at Barca

How genuine is the interest?

He’s the centre forward half of Europe want and while Barcelona continue to talk up their chances of landing Erling Haaland, it seems unlikely at the moment that they could pay Mino Raiola let alone his best player. 

They want to stay linked because it keeps the price up for Real Madrid. Vlahovic is seen as a great second option.

How likely is the move?

Manchester City are also very keen and if it become a straight fight between the two clubs there is no way Barcelona would be able to compete in their current situation.

Even with a contract that runs out in 2023 he will cost €50m (£42m). And there is no chance of it happening mid-season.

Ferran Torres (Manchester City)

What he would bring?

Xavi recently cursed the lack of ability some players seem to have for understanding positional play. It’s dawning on him that not everyone gets it. 

He spent his entire playing career at Barcelona with the tactical concepts crucial to the way they play indoctrinated from the first training session. 

It hasn’t been that way for De Jong or Depay. The biggest bonus from getting Torres is that he gets it. 

Not a former Barcelona youth team player but he came through at Valencia and has shown under Luis Enrique with Spain and Pep Guardiola at Manchester City that he can play that way.

There doesn't seem much doubt that Man City forward Ferran Torres wants to join Barca

There doesn’t seem much doubt that Man City forward Ferran Torres wants to join Barca

How genuine is the interest?

There is no doubt they want him. And there doesn’t seem much doubt that he wants to come. What is in major doubt is how Barcelona make it work.

How likely is the move?

Barcelona had their chance to sign Torres back in 2020 when Valencia needed the money and were putting their best young player up for sale for €25m (£21m) plus €12m (£10m) in add-ons. That is when Guardiola told City to buy him. 

Since then he has broken into the Spain team and scored 12 goals in 22 games. No one has that success rate since David Villa. 

Sportsmail reported this week that Barcelona were edging closer to signing him in a deal that could rise to more than £55m, but the move could yet take some time to complete given the arrival of Torres would take the club over their salary cap limit.

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) The difficult loan option.

What he would bring?

The fact that Guardiola has got good use out of Sterling makes Barcelona fans believe he would be good for them. 

He has become a more versatile forward at City under Pep. Although there would be concerns that he does not have the clinical finishing ratio of goals to chances that the team really needs right now.

Raheem Sterling has been linked to Barcelona but there is not universal backing in Spain

Raheem Sterling has been linked to Barcelona but there is not universal backing in Spain

How genuine is the interest?

There is not universal agreement and some at the club would see his signing as another Philippe Coutinho – a player who turned out to have had his best years in the Premier League and will join while already in decline.

How likely is the move?

As with all these targets wages are the big problem. As things stand Barcelona are still breaking LaLiga’s financial fair play rules on the proportion of income they spend on salaries and that means they are operating on a 1.4 ratio in terms of who they bring in. 

If they get €20m (£17m) off the wage bill they can bring someone in on €6m (£5m). 

It’s for that reason that getting Aguero off the wage bill did little more than allow the club to bring in Dani Alves. 

That could change if they improve their financial situation drastically by selling off part of the club’s subsidiary operations or U-turning on the decision not to accept the CVC.

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