La Blaugrana will decide which striker to sign after the Copa del Rey game against Levante, though a look at their shortlist will leave a lot of fans flummoxed
The Chelsea duo of Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud, Tottenham’s Fernando Llorente, West Ham’s Lucas Perez and Girona’s Cristhian Stuani have been made the candidates, with Barcelona selling their only back-up centre forward, in Munir El Haddadi to Sevilla last week. The club face a 2-1 deficit going into the second leg against Levante and, though it is not how they would like it, elimination from the cup will reduce the burden on Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi until the end of the season.
Barca will still try to make a signing, albeit a one on loan without any obligation to buy, especially if they crash out of the cup, and that rules out Stuani and Morata. Stuani, a former Middlesbrough player, is La Liga’s third-highest scorer with 12 goals for Girona and even scored an overhead kick at the weekend. His club will only sell if Barcelona can match his €15 million release clause, to which the defending champions are baulking at considering the Uruguayan is 32 years old now.
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Chelsea will also not let Morata leave for anything other than a loan deal with an obligation to buy. He is easily the most expensive of the Catalans’ options and the club is also not fully convinced that he is the right player to eventually replace Luis Suarez. Ernesto Valverde is a fan of Llorente, but Barca feel the injury to Harry Kane will make it harder for them to bring him in on loan.
Giroud satisfied many of Barcelona’s criteria, especially as a player who will start immediately. He may not have played in La Liga but has enough experienced to fit immediately into the team, but Chelsea will not sell their forwards without replacements. Perez is another name now under consideration, but Real Betis are also tracking the former Arsenal forward.
Of all the options, it seems Barcelona would do well to pursue Perez or Giroud, who are experienced and could slot into the team immediately if needed. The rest have one catch or the other and will represent a waste of time and energy for the European heavyweights.