What next for Barcelona as the old guard continue to exit?
Plus, a look at Sunday’s clash with Real Madrid
Barcelona fans across the globe were welling up last week as Andres Iniesta announced his exit from the Nou Camp this summer. And the 33-year-old’s impending departure signals the end of an era.
In recent years, Barca have seen a slew of club legends retire or move on, including Carles Puyol and Xavi. Most recently, Javier Mascherano jetted off for China after more than seven years and 333 appearances for Blaugrana.
With the changing of the guard soon to be completed, the Coral News Team look at the next crop of stars and some potential summer targets for boss Ernesto Valverde.
The young aces
While Barca aren’t quite producing young players with the talent and frequency of a decade ago, they’ve made a number of smart acquisitions with bright futures ahead.
Winger Ousmane Dembele has been excellent since his return from injury. The 20-year-old has chalked up two goals and seven assists in 20 outings – just 10 of those starts.
Meanwhile, 24-year-old duo Nelson Semedo and Samuel Umtiti have been impressively solid in their respective defensive roles.
Possible summer acquisitions
Reports from Don Balon suggest there’ll be a clearing out of the deadwood at Camp Nou this summer, including the likes of Paco Alcacer and Denis Suarez.
For starters, Gremio prodigy Arthur Melo is definitely on his way to the Nou Camp, having reached an agreement over a summer move. A skilful, composed and diminutive ball of energy, the 21-year-old looks to be an ideal Iniesta replacement.
A move for Atletico Madrid hitman Antoine Griezmann has been much discussed throughout the season. And if Barca are to add Champions League glory to La Liga dominance, another striking option could be key.
With Gerard Pique now 31-years-old, Valverde also seems to be looking long-term in regards to the centre-back role.
Powerful OGC Nice defender Malang Sarr and classy Ajax centre-half Matthijs de Ligt – both teenagers – have been linked with the role.
Can Valverde’s champions win El Clasico?
The La Liga title was wrapped up at the weekend, with Barca still having four games to spare. But there’s pride on the line on Sunday as they host fierce rivals Real Madrid.
Each side has enjoyed two wins in the last four meetings, but Barcelona dominated December’s clash at the Santiago Bernabeu – winning 3-0.
It’s 4/6 for another Barca win, while the draw is a 16/5 shot and Zinedine Zidane’s Real are 10/3 to grab three points and spoil the title party.
The irrepressible Lionel Messi has scored nine goals in as many games, including two hat-tricks. He’s 8/13 to Score Anytime, and 9/1 to net Three or More Goals.
With so much attacking talent on show, he’s unlikely to be the only scorer. It’s 2/5 for Both Teams to Score, while the odds make it 20/23 for Over 3.5 Goals.
Barca have been strong starters of late, leading at the 15-minute mark in three of their last four games. Result After 15 Minutes: Barcelona is priced up at odds of 18/5.
Click here for the latest La Liga odds from Coral.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing