Is Alexia Putellas Barcelona’s new starting striker?
When Barcelona spent a world record transfer fee on Keira Walsh last summer, anyone with even a cursory interest in the 2023/24 season might have raised an eyebrow. Midfield is not an area where Barcelona have been short on options and whilst they were heading into 2022/23 without Alexia Putellas, she was not going to be unavailable for ever. £350,000 seemed like a lot of money to spend on a year’s worth of midfield cover. What would Barcelona do once they had all four of Walsh, Alexia, Aitana Bonmati and Patri Guijarro available?
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Some assumed that one would be discarded - potentially Walsh. After all, it was the combination of Alexia, Aitana and Patri that had elevated Barcelona to the undisputed best women’s football team. Until knees got in the way, it was unthinkable that the trio would not play in midfield together. Once Alexia returned to full fitness, surely Patri would reprise her role at the base of midfield with Aitana as the slightly less advanced right hand side 8? Why tinker with a perfect formula?
The decision to spend that money on Walsh was particularly surprising given that Barcelona looked to have more pressing concerns when it came to squad building. They refused to meet Manchester United’s valuation of fullback Ona Batlle - more understandable given she arrived on a free 12 months on - whilst Jenni Hermoso’s exit left a vacancy up top. They did move in that market, gazumping Arsenal to the signing of Geyse Ferreira. Yet one year on, Geyse is playing for Manchester United. Asisat Oshoala remains at the club but both her injury record and performances have turned her into more of a bench player. Once again, Barcelona are missing a definitive striker.
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