La Liga 'lacking star player' after Messi's Barcelona exit
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Barcelona told Ronald Koeman they were planning to leave the summer transfer window without replacing Antoine Griezmann. On deadline day, he returned to Atletico Madrid in another high-profile attacking exit after Lionel Messi joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.
Griezmann has re-joined Atletico on a season-long loan with an obligation to buy, just two years after leaving in a £108million deal in July 2019.
Barcelona offloaded 12 players in the transfer window after president Joan Laporta revealed the club was £1.15bn (€1.35bn) in debt.
The La Liga giants’ wage bill accounted for 103% of their total income in mid-August amid a financial crisis that prompted Messi’s shock departure.
Atletico will be paying Griezmann’s entire salary as Barcelona continue to cut costs, and they were prepared to enter the remainder of the season without a replacement.
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According to SPORT, Koeman accepted the club’s stance over not replacing Griezmann but asked to explore the availability of Sevilla striker Luuk de Jong.
Barcelona were initially reluctant to approach De Jong, but Koeman convinced the club that he would be a good fit in his philosophy at Camp Nou.
After pushing for the signing of another fellow Dutchman, Memphis Depay, the Barcelona boss secured De Jong on a season-long loan.
The 31-year-old offers something different in the Barcelona attack and could be the focal point surrounded by Koeman’s dynamic options on the wings.
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Koeman’s attacking options are new-look after a summer of surprising change at Barcelona.
Former Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero joins Memphis and De Jong after he arrived on a free transfer.
Denmark international Martin Braithwaite has remained at the club, with on-loan Austrian teenager Yusuf Demir, new number seven Ousmane Dembele also options.
Ansu Fati, one of Europe’s most promising young talents, has inherited the iconic number 10 shirt left behind by Messi and will play a significant role once he’s recovered from injury.
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Koeman likely would have been alright with his current options if Barcelona hadn’t replaced Griezmann on Tuesday.
But the club’s financial woes are telling when they’ve let such a major signing like Griezmann walk out after just two seasons.
Multiple first-team players have even accepted pay cuts in order for the club to register new signings in La Liga.
It certainly feels like a new era at Camp Nou, especially at the front of Koeman’s team.
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