What does Griezmann's Barcelona arrival mean for both Dembele, Coutinho?
Background photo: Arria Belli CC BY 2.5
A transfer saga that lasted for over 365 days finally saw its end this summer. FC Barcelona are well known for signing the best players from around the world to partner with Lionel Messi. The Catalans justified their status as an elite side once again, luring Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid despite major twists and turns along the way.
For Griezmann, moving to Barcelona is a dream come true. The Frenchman has been constantly linked with a transfer to Catalonia for a fair while... Despite turning down an offer from the club just last year, the 28-year-old couldn't resist the privilege to represent arguably the biggest club in Europe when the Blaugrana came knocking for the second time.
From Barcelona's point of view, they've pulled a great deal by signing one of the finest players in the world for just €120million in this heavily inflated transfer market. Griezmann is a world-class attacker. There's no doubt his presence will boost Barca's chances of winning the Champions League next season. However, his arrival raises questions over the roles and futures of two players at the Nou Camp; Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.
Dembele was signed in the summer of 2017 as the replacement for Neymar Jr. Meanwhile, the imminent departure of club legend, Andres Iniesta, inspired Barca to lure Coutinho from Liverpool in January 2018.
Both players cost the Catalans a combined fee of over €250million. Having spent such enormous figures to acquire these highly talented superstars, Barca believed they had adequately replaced their departed heroes. But, they would later learn otherwise, as the pair struggled from the get-go.
Dembele endured a nightmare start to life in Catalonia. The winger suffered a terrible injury in his first La Liga start for Barca during a 2-1 victory against Getafe on September 16, 2017. Ever since then, more injuries followed while disciplinary issues and constant criticism have marred his development.
Coutinho's case seems to be even worse. The Brazilian raised expectations with promising displays after joining halfway through the 2017/2018 campaign. More was expected from him last term but he failed to satisfy demands and consequently, the ex-Liverpool man fell out with the Blaugrana faithful, as a series of boos and jeers followed shortly after.
Barca finished the campaign on a low once again as they crashed out of the Champions League in the semi-final. Dembele and Coutinho had fingers pointed at them for their sub-par performances, the Nou Camp fans had found their scapegoats for European demise.
With the Champions League slipping away from their hands once again, Barca decided to seek answers in the transfer market. After signing Frenkie de Jong from Ajax and Neto from Valencia, the Catalans announced their biggest deal of the summer so far, with Griezmann making the Nou Camp his new home.
The Frenchman is without doubt, amongst the most potent attackers on the planet right now. A hardworking superstar filled with intelligence and a strong winning mentality, the 28-year-old will definitely bring plenty to the team. With his technicality, versatility, and experience, he is expected to shine in Catalonia. However, that would be at the expense of the aforementioned duo, who could well fall rapidly down the pecking order...
Their highest chances of making an impact would now probably come as substitutes. In this modern-day game, these big-money players simply won't settle for coming on late in games. They'd rather move elsewhere, preferably to a club who'll give them the opportunity to start games with regularity.
Dembele is a target for Bayern Munich and Arsenal, while Coutinho is reportedly drawing interest from his former club Liverpool. Either of the two superstars could also be used as a makeweight in the deal for Neymar, who is reportedly angling towards a return to Camp Nou this summer.
If Barca decide to keep one of these stars as a backup, Dembele is likely to be the one as Coutinho's future seems further in doubt. Whatever happens, the arrival of Griezmann definitely spells trouble for the unfortunate pair.