Why Barcelona are struggling to secure their three main January targets

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Barcelona are finding it difficult to negotiate with teams this January as the club look to finally rebuild after a crazy summer.

The whirlwind sale of Brazilian superstar Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain completely devastated the Catalonians' summer transfer plans, leaving them frantically trying to save face with enormous offers.

 They eventually signed two players: Neymar's Brazil teammate Paulinho from Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande, and French wonderkid Ousmane Dembélé from Borussia Dortmund.

Both transfers were difficult to push through, however, with clubs preying on Barca's desperate situation and sudden influx of an enormous amount of cash.

Paulinho would move for €40 million, but only after Barca saw several bids rejected and were forced to pay his release clause.

Dembele, on the other hand, had no such clause. The two teams were engaged in high-profile negotiations that resulted in a staggering €150 million fee being agreed for the 20-year-old - comfortably the second highest figure in history after Neymar.

Barcelona have managed to regroup over the first half of the season, embarking on a highly promising campaign despite their tumultuous summer. They qualified comfortably in the Champions League while also opening up a huge nine-point lead at the of La Liga - 14 over rivals Real Madrid.

The club can go about their transfer business in a less scattergun approach now that things have settled down, with their top targets being well known. They're still, however, finding that negotiating with teams is a struggle.

Whether it's clubs knowing the amount of money at their disposal, or merely knowing that Barca are in need of reinforcement, the Catalan's are being quoted prices higher than they're prepared to pay.

Colombian defender Yerry Mina will join from Palmeiras eventually, but Barca are eager to bring the 23-year-old in immediately to replace Javier Mascherano. The Argentine will move to China this month, leaving a gap in the squad that Mina would fill nicely.


Spanish outlet Sport are reporting that the Brazilian club are not eager to sell earlier than the summer, though. Barca offered an extra €2m on top of the already agreed €9m to move things along quicker, but Palmeiras quickly rejected the deal.

Mina isn't the only player that Barca are hoping to poach from Brazil, however. Gremio midfielder Arthur has been linked with a move since November and the 21-year-old is seen as the perfect player to build a midfield around long-term.

One major hang-up is that Barcelona angered Gremio last month when a Barca director flew out to meet the player - and posed for a photo with Arthur wearing a Blaugrana shirt. The photo didn't go down well at his current club, especially as no approach had formally been made.

Gremio v Lanus - Copa Bridgestone Libertadores 2017 Final

Still, Barca want their man and Gremio know they can't hold onto him for long - but that hasn't stopped them from slapping on a €30m price tag, according to Marca.

That's, again, more than Barcelona are wanting to pay for a player with little international reputation.

And then there's Philippe Coutinho. It's absolutely no secret that the Liverpool star is Barca's prime target; he was the target last summer, he'll be the target this winter, and he'll be the target next summer if a deal isn't done by then.


Liverpool have been resolute in their determination to keep hold of Coutinho. Barcelona have consistently made offers that would have been of unthinkable value a year ago, only to see them rejected instantly.

That pattern is set to continue throughout January as La Liga's leaders continue to find themselves held to ransom over fees in the wake of the Neymar deal.

If only it was as hassle-free as paying a release clause.

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Paris Saint-Germain
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Philippe Coutinho
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