Barcelona look set to experience one of the most crucial January transfer windows of recent times.
With a FIFA transfer ban still in place, and no realistic possibility of it being lifted, the Catalans are unable to bring anyone in to freshen up the squad. Therefore, any outgoings would be expected to be kept to a minimum.
Loan deals for fringe players will always happen, especially in mid-season as it gives mainly youngsters the chance to get decent, and competitive, minutes under their belts. A win-win if you like.
Where Barca might struggle at the beginning of the new year is with their defence.
Thomas Vermaelen's signature is, to this point in any event, an embarrassment. A minimum of a further four months on the sidelines means that the earliest we are likely to see the Belgian in action is towards the back end of April and the business end of the season.
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Depending on the status quo at the time, you can hardly foresee a scenario where Luis Enrique will parachute Vermaelen into the first team after almost a season out, at the expense of players who have been at the sharp end all season long.
Gerard Pique continues to be treated with contempt by the manager and rumours are rife that this is something that is beginning to irk senior members of the squad. As such, Enrique needs to tread very carefully indeed.
Pique singled out
Quite why Pique appears to be being singled out is baffling. He hasn't been at his best this season, but he certainly isn't the worst performer. In the big games, he's come to the fore. What more can you ask for?
And then we come to the right-back conundrum...
Martin Montoya's agent Juan Dios Carrasco has noted that Montoya will definitely be leaving the club in January, after becoming frustrated at a lack of first team opportunities.
Montoya off to Italy?
Juventus are one club known to be in the hunt for his signature and Carrasco told Calciomercato.it, via Football Italia:
Barcelona have been informed of the player’s sole desire to leave in the next transfer session. As of now, interested clubs can contact Barcelona and negotiate his transfer.
Having not featured this season, on the face of it, Montoya's move wouldn't normally create an issue.
However, Louis Van Gaal is known to want Dani Alves at Manchester United and has instructed his paymasters to "pull out all the stops" to get the Brazilian in January.
Alves' contract runs out in July and clearly Van Gaal wants to beat a whole host of admirers to the punch.
Should both players move on, it would leave out-of-favour summer signing Douglas as the only recognised right-back. But he too could be on the move!
Everton are in the market to take the player on loan, and with Josep Maria Bartomeu noting that Douglas wasn't bought for this season in any event, it gives credence to the rumours that the Brazilian might end up on the blue half of Merseyside.
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