Sometimes the best team wins La Liga, and they do it convincingly. Other times, like this season, La Liga is decided by the slimmest of margins. One point here, two points there. One goal by an unlikely hero here, one assist by even more unlikely hero there. Last season, the January arrivals of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ferran Torres, and Adama Traore bolstered a squad struggling to make Europe, propelling Barcelona to a second place finish in the end.
This season is a bit different, as Barcelona lead the league and have Robert Lewandowski in the middle. Yet, with the league so tight and the Catalan club’s purse strings even tighter, Barcelona must operate in January on the margins. Xavi has already stated that he likes the squad he has and isn’t looking to change anything.
While Xavi says that, he may not object too much to moving Memphis Depay, the sixth forward in his rotation and a player whose entourage has made it clear that he would like more playing time. At 28 and a free agent in the summer, Memphis still has time to get a big payday or two in his career, a payday will would be positively impacted if he can show what he has for the next few months.
Which leads us to the musical chairs situation that has transpired, with the analogy beginning to fall flat in the realization that all three players could get a chair when the music stops. Joao Felix could already be in London by the time of writing, finalizing his loan move to Chelsea. In his place, Memphis has been named on Atletico Madrid’s shortlist of players they want to help them get back into a Champions League place, being one point behind Real Betis for the fourth spot.
This would leave Xavi with a few minutes and a small wage available for another forward, preferably one that could be the back-up to Lewandowski. With Joao Felix’s arrival at Chelsea, Aubameyang has fallen down the depth chart and is reportedly ready to return to Catalonia. Unlike Memphis, the 33-year-old Aubameyang is probably done with hefty contracts and is likely looking to continue contributing to winning sides.
While they are different players, it’s hard to argue that Aubameyang’s time with the Blaugrana was an overwhelming success, scoring 13 goals in just 24 matches. That’s a much better rate than Memphis’ 14 goals in 42 matches, though it shouldn’t be forgotten that Memphis carried the Lion’s share of attacking responsibility in the fall of 2021 and help keep Barcelona in the top half of the league table.
There are still quite a few moving parts, including the complicated nature of loans and wages and the financial parameters in which Barcelona is working within, but Joao Felix to Chelsea, Memphis to Atleti, and Auba back to Barcelona might be the rare win-win-win January transfer carousel. There it is – forget the chairs, it’s a transfer carousel.