Stuck between filling gaps in the squad and handling financial struggles, Barcelona are once again at the forefront of a European transfer window as January 2024 rolls around.
The La Liga side advanced to the Champions League knockout round but are lagging behind in the domestic title race, which threatens to pull away without them.
To make matters worse, vitally important heartbeat Gavi was lost to a torn ACL while on international duty in November, leaving a gaping hole in midfield for the remainder of the season and beyond. Barcelona president Joan Laporta said “our idea is to add another midfielder that can compensate for Gavi’s injury” but that financial leverage would be required to do so, likely as a six-month loan.
Yet Barcelona are still greatly restricted by their dire financial situation, and any transfer narrative regarding incoming and outgoing movement must be taken with the understanding of their difficulties on the balance sheet.
Barcelona completed transfers January 2024
|Athletico Paranense (BRA)
No outgoing transfers at this time
Barcelona transfer news: January 2024 window targets
Young forward Vitor Roque signs from Brazil
Eighteen-year-old winger Vitor Roque has completed his transfer from Brazilian club Athletico Paranense, the club announced in late December, joining now that the South American club season has concluded.
Having made his senior international debut for Brazil back in March, the versatile attacker had a prolific season for his club, scoring 21 goals in 45 appearances across all competitions, while assisting eight more. He helped Athletico Paranense to an eighth-placed finish in the Brazilian top flight, while reaching the Round of 16 in the Copa Libertadores.
It’s unclear whether the youngster will be able to contribute in the short term, or if he will need time to acclimatise to his new club and environment, but that should be sorted in due time as Xavi will get to see him personally as Roque begins to train with the Barcelona first team immediately. With Barca forced to lean on young Lamine Yamal for significant minutes in recent weeks, it feels likely there could be some role for Roque this season.
Gio Lo Celso an option in midfield?
Precious little news has been heard as Barcelona endeavor to fill Gavi’s shoes in midfield, as there are very few options around Europe who could provide the quality required without a high cost.
One potential option could come from the Premier League, as Argentine midfielder Gio Lo Celso struggles to earn playing time at Tottenham. While performing admirably over the last few years for his national team, Lo Celso has struggled to have the same impact at club level, particularly in England.
With experience in Spain after spending time on loan at Villarreal, and a contract that expires in 2025, Lo Celso could be a quality addition at an affordable rate, with just 10 Premier League appearances this season under Ange Postecoglou. There’s nothing concrete linking him to Barcelona at this early stage, only speculation, but Spanish publication AS did float the Argentine as a potential option in the coming months.
Barcelona to bring back Chadi Riad from Real Betis
With Barcelona struggling financially, there’s already talk of what could be done in the upcoming summer transfer window. One heavily rumoured option at the back is for the club to secure 20-year-old Moroccan defender Chadi Riad from Real Betis.
Starting the season as a second-choice option, Riad forced his way into the starting lineup and has earned consistent time. A former Barcelona youth product, Riad was loaned to Real Betis last summer, and according to Spanish publication Sport, the Andalusian club are obligated to sign him for €3.5 million because he has played enough matches to trigger the clause in the agreement with Barca. However, as part of the same deal, Barca are said to have a €7 million buyback option; in other words, they can bring him back to Camp Nou for a total outlay of just €3.5m.
Bringing Riad back to the club via a cheap transfer and a low-leverage contract could allow them to offload a more expensive central defender like Andreas Christensen or Jules Kounde, providing a net positive in the transfer market and lowering the payroll.
What Barcelona players could be sold in January?
Ronald Araujo won’t be sold this winter
As mentioned previously, Barcelona could be interested in lowering their wage bill and securing a financial windfall by offloading a central defender in the coming transfer window, or even in the summer, as it is the one position of strength at the club.
Uruguayan Ronald Araujo is highly coveted as a world-class defender at 24 years old, and with his contract expiring in 2026, there is some wiggle room to force a move. Bayern Munich have been the most heavily linked club, reportedly willing to pay an enormous fee for Araujo, which would surely entice a cash-strapped club like Barcelona.
Yet according to Florian Plettenberg of Sky Germany, Araujo has decided not to entertain offers this winter, leaving Bayern to try again in the summer. He says the Bundesliga giants believe there is a “small chance” of securing a transfer in the offseason, despite the looming possibility of a contract extension with Barcelona.
Will Joao Felix or Joao Cancelo leave after loans expire?
The future of Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo, both at Barcelona on loan, is in the back of everyone’s mind as the club makes its plans for the future.
Both Portugal internationals have the same agent, and Barcelona president Joan Laporta has confirmed he already knows what the cost of securing their permanent signature would be. Laporta hinted at the distinct possibility of both joining long-term.
“We are interested in both of them not being on loan but a part of this club,” Laporta said to Spanish news agency EFE. “We’ll see how it progresses; signings will be assessed at the right time. I think both Cancelo and Felix are cases from which all parties involved will end up satisfied.”