Over the past few weeks, Robert Lewandowski has made it clear that Bayern Munich is no longer where he wants to be. The Polish international has bluntly stated that he no longer feels happy at Bayern and therefore would like to leave.
The Bavarians and their Starman seek the best course of action to have as smooth a separation as possible. Bayern’s number nine is aware of his status in die rotten; the last thing he would want would be to tarnish his reputation with them.
Despite the Pole’s desire to part ways with the club, Bayern are making it difficult. They are adamant about not adjusting their transfer fee which could make Barcelona look elsewhere.
Recent developments in Barcelona’s financial situation have ensured that finances are no longer an obstacle.
Thanks to possible partial sales of Barça Licensing and Merchandising (BLM) and their TV rights, garnet and blue should receive an injection of 700 to 800 million euros into their finances this summer, freeing them from the grip of FFP.
The Blaugrana could be prompted to look elsewhere in the European market, and Barca Universal have compiled a list of three players the club are looking for. They each, in their own way, meet Barcelona’s demands for a centre-forward and offer more longevity and dynamism than the Poland international.
Join us as we take an analytical approach to three possible alternatives to Lewandowski, each below or around his transfer fee.
With a January move to Camp Nou rumored, Alvaro Morata can be hugely useful at the Blaugrana. The ex-Madrid player is a unique type of centre-forward, and his profile could be what Barcelona need for the upcoming season.
Morata is not the typical striker; his dexterity goes far beyond his goalscoring exploits. The Spaniard boasts one of the finest anchoring games in the world. His strengths don’t necessarily lie in his goalscoring ability as his best season saw him score just 15 goals.
Despite his weaknesses in front of goal, his mastery of the link-up game makes him a key cog in Luis Enrique’s machine for Spain. Morata plays better between the lines, with his back to goal. He uses situations like these to bond with other forwards and his insides, perpetually creating positional advantages for his team.
He, for example, will receive a pass from half-space and, given his thinking speed, quickly join his wingers on either side of him. In fact, it’s a facet of the game that hardly any player has to their degree.
Morata’s passing range gives him the ability to stretch the opposition, and his one-touch pass, which for Barcelona is heaven, will only serve to speed up the team’s game.
Beyond his link-up play, the Atletico Madrid striker has shown immense ability to get the ball out. Morata’s movements in the half-spaces ensure that his teammates always have room to move.
If a rival player were to follow him, he would risk leaving an empty space that a midfielder or winger could capitalize on. Considering Ferran Torres’ movements in the penalty area, such dexterity in movement will be crucial for Barca.
Morata’s moves in space not only benefit his teammates but also himself. The Spaniard’s runs on the defenders’ blind sides help generate goalscoring opportunities. These moves benefit him as they often leave him one-on-one with goalies.
Defensively, Morata is an incredible asset to have both for Lucho and therefore also for Xavi Hernandez should he move to Camp Nou.
He tends to go into high pressure when possession is lost and forces misbehavior into the opposing backline. His 16.86 pressures per game illustrate this perfectly, making him a valuable asset for a team that likes to press high.
Certainly, Morata has a lot to offer in these areas in his gameplay, the central role of a striker is to score goals, and Morata is average in this facet. Although his movement off the ball is excellent, as is his poaching, he needs to do better to convert chances.
The Spaniard averages 0.32 non-penalty goals per game for club and country which ranks him in the 48th percentile in Europe. He also averages 2.46 shots per game, which is in the 48th percentile.
When put on the same playing field as players such as Lewandowski, better numbers should be on display. The last thing a club asking for goals needs is another struggling striker. His shortcomings in front of goal are derogatory, as he does the trick in most other areas of his game.
Moving from Arsenal to Bayern Munich several years ago, Serge Gnabry was a revelation in the Bundesliga. The German international has periodically made headlines, notably for his sensational performance against Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League.
Gnabry said he prefers playing as a striker, although he made his name playing mainly as a winger. In his own words, he “has more fun in the middle” of an attacking line.
Last season, Gnabry managed to score 17 goals and provide six more assists in the German top flight.
What makes this tally all the more enticing is that he did so by amassing 10.7xG and 8xA. This means he can score at above average rates and his offense doesn’t do justice to his creativity.
Gnabry has incredible ball control thanks to his winger facets. He capitalizes on this skill in tight spaces to outrun his opponents with relative ease.
The same skills can also be used in the center. Barcelona play a high possession game, which often forces their rivals into deep defensive blocks. By demonstrating his dexterity in playing in tight spaces, he presents himself as quite an attractive prospect.
On a game-by-game basis, Gnabry averages 4.55 shot-creating actions per game. 3.57 of those come from passes inside the penalty area, which ranks him in the 95th percentile for all forwards in Europe.
Gnabry could go for long-range passes or through balls into the penalty area on the creative side of things. It’s 0.21 of the latter, and while that’s apparently not very high, it ranks in the 79th percentile in Europe.
It is highly deadly when it runs out of luck. Gnabry’s 0.59 of 90 goals is among the top 5% in Europe.
His attacking profile becomes all the more attractive as he fires three shots per game from an average shooting distance of 15.6 metres. This shooting range is in the 75th percentile for wingers, which poses a significant threat to goaltenders.
As a proponent of positional play, the defensive implications are imperative. Unsurprisingly, Gnabry excels here too. The German is pressing 16.4 per game and averaging 1.99 tackles, including 0.59 in the final third of the pitch.
It’s easy to see why a player like him would fit like a glove alongside Xavi.
Nicknamed the Italian Zlatan Ibrahimovic, at just 22 years old, Gianluigi Scamacca was one of last season’s revelations in Serie A. His transfer fee is low enough for a club like Barcelona to afford, and his age makes consider signing it all. the most relevant in the long term.
From the height of his 1.95 meters, Scamacca is an imposing aerial footballer. He faces his opponents and dominates aerial duels thanks to this physical advantage.
It’s no surprise that he’s among the league’s top ball headers, with three of his sixteen goals scored last season by this method.
Scamacca mostly plays as the sole striker in a 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or even as a second striker in a 4-4-2.
The Italian thrives on his movements off the ball, which he uses to generate chances for himself or his teammates.
He can dive deep into midfield when he plays his second striking role for Sassuolo, linking up with midfielders and creating space for his wide players to attack. Scamacca also makes plenty of runs in the final third to get into goalscoring positions.
His athleticism and physique help him create space in tight spaces when he’s in the penalty area. Scamacca technically needs his physique as he tends to end up in bad scoring positions.
The Italian’s average shooting distance is 16.5m which among European forwards ranks him in the 19th percentile among forwards.
Scamacca is also an inconsistent player and struggles to perform consistently. Last season he suffered several goal droughts, scoring in just 13 of the 36 games he played. He has only scored twice in his first 12 appearances, and both goals have come in the same game. Granted, he has scored five times in his last ten appearances, they have come in four games.
On the bright side, one can theorize that playing for a bigger club should increase his return.
Xavi’s Barcelona should make their goalscoring more consistent as the team regularly generate high-quality chances, with a significant number of them aiming for headers.
In the defensive aspect of his game, Scamacca is hardly to blame. He presses 14 per game, and his 1.3 tackles and interceptions are in the 60th percentile in Europe. Such facets make him an attractive candidate for the side of the Puppet Master, especially considering how much room for growth he has given his age.