The Players Replacing Each of Barcelona's Departed Stars

Sep 26, 2020, 1:15 PM GMT+1
Carles Aleña
Carles Alena, a familiar face, returns to fill the void in midfield | David Ramos/Getty Images
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The infamous summer of 2020. That's how it'll be remembered by Barcelona fans.

From 8-2 maulings to managerial sackings - and lawsuits, from Lionel Messi's burofax to Luis Suarez's exit. It's been nothing short of chaos in Catalonia.

Things, however, are starting to settle just a wee bit as Ronald Koeman prepares to oversee his first game as Blaugrana boss on Sunday night against Unai Emery's Villarreal.

Despite Messi's eventual U-turn regarding his future, this is undoubtedly a new-look Barça side with the Dutchman at the helm - albeit for what is destined to be a mere season before Xavi takes the reins under new presidency.

We've seen five - six would be a stretch, you'll see - prominent figures in both Ernesto Valverde's and Quique Setien's respective reigns depart the Camp Nou this summer, but who'll be filling each of these voids under Koeman?

Let's take a look...

Sergiño Dest for Nelson Semedo

Sergino Dest
A more than able replacement for the departed Nelson Semedo | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

It was certainly a surprise to see Barcelona allow Nelson Semedo depart to Wolves in the week considering his rather impressive skill set, but if La Blaugrana are able to add Ajax youngster Sergiño Dest to their ranks this summer, Semedo will be forgotten in a hurry.

The Dutchman has bags of potential, with his unique but ever so dynamic play-style establishing the 19-year-old as a true entertainer from right-back.

It'd be some coup for Barcelona if they were able to secure Dest's services for the reported £18.4m considering they could earn up to £37m from Semedo's sale.

Bayern remain in the hunt for the teenager, but Barça are firmly leading the race as it stands.

Miralem Pjanic for Arthur Melo

Miralem Pjanic
Miralem Pjanic is set to duel Sergio Busquets for a spot in Koeman's starting XI | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Ah yes, the deal that made absolutely no sense whatsoever from Barcelona's perspective.

Nice work, Bartomeu!

The part-exchange deal between Juventus and Barcelona was agreed back in June, with the Bianconeri paying an additional €15m on top of the Bosnian to bring Arthur to Turin.

Pjanic's skill set differs ever so slightly from the Brazilian's but they're certainly capable of performing similar functions in the first and second phases. Both are metronomic figures blessed with supreme technique, although Pjanic's decline during Maurizio Sarri's sole season at Juve will be a concern for Koeman.

Thus, with Frenkie de Jong set to be a prominent member of the Dutchman's Barça and Sergio Busquets' demise not being as stark as the Bosnian's, Pjanic may have to settle for a rotational role in 2020/21.

Carles Aleñá for Ivan Rakitic

Carles Alena
The elegant Carles Alena is set for more opportunities at Barcelona this season | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Carles Aleñá's loan to Betis last season wasn't as productive as it should've been, but the talented Spaniard nonetheless returns to the Camp Nou with more first-team minutes under his belt.

Aleñá impressed when handed opportunities during Valverde's reign -especially in the victory over Inter last December - and will surely get his fair share of opportunities in 2020/21.

The Spaniard's blessed with wonderful technique; his weight of pass is always spot on and his ability to remain cool in the face of pressure is very impressive.

Aleñá may not be as industrious or tactically savvy as the departed Ivan Rakitić - who rejoined former club Sevilla - but you can expect the Spaniard to earn similar minutes as the Croatian did last season.

Matheus Fernandes for Arturo Vidal

Matheus Fernandes
Matheus Fernandes spent the 2019/20 campaign out on loan at Real Valladolid | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

In reality, Barcelona are yet to replace the all-action Arturo Vidal - who's reunited with Antonio Conte at Inter - this summer.

Matheus Fernandes, though - a £6m signing from Palmeiras - is perhaps the closest thing they've got.

While conservative in possession, Fernandes stands out physically among his peers and is also a fine defender; impressing in one-v-one situations particularly.

The 22-year-old won't be a big part of Koeman's plans by any means this season and instead, a loan or regular action for the reserve side appears likely.

Memphis Depay for Luis Suarez

Koeman's intentions with the undoubtedly declining Luis Suarez were laid bare from the get-go. He wanted him off Barcelona's wage bill ASAP.

Thus, the Uruguayan's poised to become David Villa 2.0 under Diego Simeone - and alongside Diego Costa - at Atletico; inevitably spearheading Los Rojiblancos' La Liga triumph and knock his former club out of the Champions League in 2020/21.

Nevertheless, Lyon captain Memphis Depay is set to be Suarez's replacement at the Camp Nou.

While, on the surface, it may appear that going from one of the current generation's finest number nines to a Manchester United flop may be the ultimate downgrade, there's no doubting that Depay could add something to Barcelona which was previously missing.

Depay's capacity to penetrate in-behind opposition defences is something that Suarez simply could no longer do following his knee surgery at the start of 2020. The Dutchman's versatility also hands Koeman greater scope for tactical flexibility.

This might actually be a shrewd move from the Barcelona board - even if it's likely Koeman pushing to get the deal done.

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