A Preview of FCB Femení's 2021 Summer Transfer Window
With the European league season soon coming to a close, clubs around the continent have already started to prepare their bi-yearly lists of departures and arrivals. Unsurprisingly, after 2 windows without any new arrivals to the first team, FC Barcelona Femení are turning to the transfer market to bolster their squad.
If one thing is certain, it’s that there will be transfers in the upcoming window. This comes from the mouth of FCB Femení sporting director Markel Zubizarretta himself, who revealed to RAC1 that there will be movements in the summer. Naturally, the current European Champions have plenty of rumors surrounding their transfer business. The club is hoping to get rid of unneeded and unsettled players, as well as improve squad depth in hopes that they can repeat their European and domestic glory of the 2020-21 season. With the inevitable resurgence of teams like Lyon and Chelsea, Barcelona will have to carefully consider who should leave, who should stay, and who should arrive. In this article, we address the futures of every player Barcelona is linked to, every player that could leave, and each of the players the club currently has out on loan. We then rank their transfer outcomes on a likelihood scale of 1-10, with 1 being the least likely outcome and 10 being the most likely outcome.
Paredes with PSG in 2021 / Eric Alonso for Getty
The signing of PSG’s captain Irene Paredes has been heavily reported on for months. Rumors surrounding Paredes’ signing were first teased by Spanish media just before the first leg of the Champions League semi final tie between Barcelona and PSG. The circumstances of the rumors were easy to write off as an attempt by the media to unsettle the French team, but the rumors only seemed to get more and more serious after PSG’s loss. Now, as the season comes to an end and PSG have won their first ever league title, it seems more than official that Paredes is ready to step away from the PSG project.
It only makes sense that Paredes would want to return home to Spain, especially considering that she and her wife are starting a family and have a baby on the way. She also has a EURO tournament to prepare for in 2022, where Spain has a legitimate shot at winning the whole thing. Since Spain’s core is mostly Barcelona players, adding Spain’s captain to the mix would be great for developing chemistry within the national team.
Multiple media outlets from both Spain and France have reported that Paredes coming to Barcelona is not a matter of “if,” but “when.” If it already wasn’t certain enough, the rumor was more or less confirmed when Barcelona’s manager Lluís Cortés mistakenly liked a fake tweet announcing her arrival. The announcement of Paredes to Barcelona is really just a matter of time.
Will she arrive at Barcelona? 10/10, certain
Engen with Wolfsburg in 2020 / Gabriel Bouys for AFP
Ingrid Engen has an expiring contract at VfL Wolfsburg this summer, and is confirmed to be leaving the club after two seasons. Joining the club at 21, she matured surprisingly quickly and became one of their most important team members alongside the influence of top players like Zsannett Jakabfi, Lena Goeßling, Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir and Pernille Harder. It was revealed in January 2021 that Engen rejected a renewal offer and was looking to compete in a different league.
Wolfsburg’s sporting director discussed the departure of Engen in an interview with German sport website Sportbuzzer:
"We had hoped that she would stay here a little longer,,, we fought for her, but she has other plans... I'm sure that she will go to a club where friends, family, and others can see her regularly. The visibility of (the Frauen Bundesliga) is an issue."
There were reports earlier in April that she was destined for a WSL club, but only a week ago it was reported by Esport3 that Barça are one step away from Engen’s signature. Engen wants to be a part of a club which gives more visibility and has an exciting project, criteria that Barcelona definitely fulfill. The biggest downside for the Norwegian is that she would have to challenge for a starting spot in Barcelona’s almost untouchable midfield three, but with the potential departure of Hamraoui and Losada already confirmed to be leaving, she would find plenty of playing time off the bench.
Will she arrive at Barcelona? 8/10, very likely
Rolfö celebrating against Barcelona in 2020 / Gabriel Bouys for Getty
Just like Ingrid Engen, Fridolina Rolfö’s contract with VFL Wolfsburg is going to end this summer. Rolfö is most known to Barcelona fans as the player who single-handedly brought Wolfsburg to the 2019-20 Champions League Final after scoring the single goal that knocked out Barcelona in the semifinals. In the most recent season, she has played 19 games across the Frauen Bundesliga and the Champions League, scoring 4 goals and assisting 1.
Similar to Engen, Wolfsburg’s sporting director revealed the reason why Rolfö rejected the renewal offer:
"I can certainly understand that after four years in Germany you want to go to another country again… but there are also in the top European clubs that have a greater charisma than VfL - purely by name."
Sportbuzzer reported that Fridolina Rolfö and Engen are close to joining Barcelona. Rolfö’s experience, pace and physicality would be a similar profile to Asisat Oshoala in the likely circumstance that the Nigerian leaves in the summer. Rolfö is mostly fit to play as a striker or on the left-wing, and her signing offers an experienced backup in the absence of Lieke Martens, who tends to struggle with injuries. However, considering the emergence of Bruna Vilamala as well as the potential return of Candela Andújar, Clàudia Pina and even Carla Armengol, Rolfö could find herself fighting for minutes with Barcelona’s brightest young attacking talents.
Will she arrive at Barcelona? 7/10, likely
Hasegawa with AC Milan in 2021 / Jonathan Moscrop for Getty
Yui Hasegawa is a 24-year-old Japanese midfielder who is currently playing with AC Milan. She is known best for being on the scoring end of Japan’s incredible team goal in the Round of 16 of the 2019 Women’s World Cup before Barcelona player Lieke Martens rescued the Netherlands at the death with a penalty kick.
Like most Japanese midfielders, she is a player with high levels of technical skill and an excellent passing ability. In addition, she has an eye for goal and has a quality scoring record against big teams. This transfer rumor is very new, and was only reported on by Italian media two days ago. However, purely from a playing standpoint, her profile makes perfect sense for a team like Barcelona.
Will she arrive at Barcelona? ?/10- Not enough information
Karchaoui with Lyon in 2020 / Alberto Gandolfo for NurPhoto
Sakina Karchaoui, Lyon’s mainstay at leftback this season, is out of contract after a year with the club. She is a very attacking-oriented fullback but poor defensively, with a player profile that resembles current Barcelona leftback Leila Ouahabi.
Barcelona have admittedly had issues at leftback for a while, and it has persisted to be the most vulnerable part of Barcelona’s defense with poor overall depth. Barcelona could definitely want some new blood in the position, which could be even more motivated by the likely retirement of Barcelona legend Melanie Serrano.
Reports say that she is close to one of Barcelona, Chelsea or PSG, with the latter team likely having a vacancy at leftback due to the expected transfer of Perle Morroni to Lyon. She is “unconvinced” by Barcelona’s offer, however, making her arrival at Chelsea or PSG much more likely.
Will she arrive at Barcelona? 3/10, unlikely
Losada with the 2020-21 UEFA Women's Champions League trophy / Oscar J. Barroso for Europa Press Sports
In the summer of 2019, the arrival of Caroline Graham Hansen provided a much-needed balance to Barcelona’s team setup, setting off a domino effect that allowed Lieke Martens to stay on the left wing, which gave Alexia Putellas priority at left center midfield. With this new system, the first half of the 2019-20 season started off strong. The team was in the best form they had ever been in, as the first captain, Vicky Losada, was on the sidelines recovering from an injury. Upon her return in the middle of the season, she was relegated to be an off-the-bench player, and has never been able to reclaim a starting spot since. As a result of her lack of playing time, the midfielder who used to be a regular in the Spain national team has only gotten a callup once in the past year and a half, and didn’t play either of their matches while she was there.
Losada has been vocally unhappy with this arrangement for many months now. Throughout this past week, she gave public interviews to Spanish media that she felt underappreciated, specifically by manager Lluís Cortés. Losada is under the belief that she deserved a starting spot in big matches this season, and that she deserved more consistent minutes as a starter. Cortés understandably would not budge on Losada not starting regularly, as Barcelona’s midfield three of Alexia Putellas, Aitana Bonmatí and Patri Guijarro are arguably the most quality midfield trio in the world. Yesterday, in an emotional press conference, Losada expressed her intention to leave the club after 14 years.
It’s clear now that Barcelona have outgrown Losada’s level too much for her to be regularly starting, but she is only 30 years old and still has plenty to offer as a player. Her most likely destination will be to a WSL team, where she spent two years before returning to Barcelona in 2016. The WSL team that she is most heavily linked to is Manchester City, who are looking for a replacement for Sam Mewis. Another option (although purely based on speculation) would be her former club Arsenal, who are looking for a replacement for Jill Roord.
Will she leave Barcelona? 10/10, certain
Hamraoui with Barcelona in 2021 / Joaquin Corchero for Europa Press Sports
Hamraoui joined Barcelona in the summer of 2018, looking for a new challenge after being benched for the majority of her two seasons at Lyon. A challenge she wanted and a challenge she received- in her time at Barcelona, she reached two Champions League finals, and won the whole thing the second time around in her third season at the club, playing a significant role in all three seasons of the competition.
Her role in Barcelona’s Champions League successes doesn’t go without recognition, but her minutes in other competitions, specifically the league, are irregular. In a well-established midfield of Patri, Aitana, and Alexia, she struggles to find minutes that aren’t off the bench. Kheira has shown that she is more than capable of performing in big matches, but her style of play doesn’t usually suit the needs of the team nor the system, and she tends to be inconsistent.
Last summer, Kheira only extended her contract for a year, so it will run out this summer. With multiple rumored midfield additions, she is one of the players most likely to make way for them. Kheira has long been speculated to go to Barcelona’s newfound league rivals Real Madrid, but let’s be honest- who hasn’t? Kheira may be on her way out, but with no clear destination yet.
Will she leave Barcelona? 7/10, likely
Pereira with the 2021 Copa de la Reina trophy / Diego Souto for Quality Sport Images
Andrea Pereira joined Barcelona in the summer of 2018, and has been an integral part of the team since, especially with former Barcelona center back Stefanie van der Gragt being constantly injured. She has formed a formidable partnership with Mapi León at the heart of the defense for the past three seasons, and has become an undisputed starter for Barcelona at the back. There were rumors about her leaving to Real Madrid in the summer of 2020, but Barcelona squashed those rumors by extending her for 3 more years.
The situation is quite different now because of the impending arrival of Irene Paredes. Mapi León and Irene Paredes are the starting center back partnership for the Spanish national team, which means Pereira will have to fight for minutes.
Will the arrival of Irene Paredes disrupt and minimize Pereira’s playing time? Yes. But that isn’t likely to be her catalyst for leaving Barcelona, at least not this season. They are a team who will be competing for all titles, and there will definitely be a need for her to rotate for Paredes and even challenge her for a starting spot. The only outlet that started the rumors was Mundo Deportivo, and there aren't enough conclusive details that could see her outside of the European Champions. Last week, Pereira laughed off the rumors with a tweet captioned “We’re going to Madrid… for the Copa (de la Reina)” as she posed with a smile and a thumbs-up next to Kheira Hamraoui, who has also been linked to Los Blancos.
Will she leave Barcelona? 2/10, very unlikely
Oshoala with Barcelona in 2021 / Zac Goodwin for PA Images
Asisat Oshoala is another player who is looking for a way out, unhappy with her playing time and struggling with injuries. Since arriving in January 2019, Oshoala has been good from a statistical standpoint and has showed in big many times in the Champions League, but her inconsistency and lack of clinicality in the final third has been a cause of concern. She has a tendency to miss clear cut chances when it matters the most, and it doesn’t look like that aspect of her game is going to improve any time soon.
With Bruna Vilamala developing more into a starting role and scoring goals whenever she starts, it’s becoming more and more difficult for Oshoala to earn back her starting spot. In addition, there will be even more competition next season with the return of Clàudia Pina. Her contract runs out in 2022, but with her clearly unsettled, it could be time to call it quits in Barcelona.
SCORENigeria exclusively reported that “talks are going on for Asisat to join Manchester United." There was another report from Mundo Deportivo on May 27th of the same rumor, further adding to the likelihood of her departure. However, the current state of Manchester United Women and their faltering project might make Oshoala apprehensive of leaving this summer.
Will she leave Barcelona? 6/10, somewhat likely
Serrano celebrating Barcelona's 2020-21 UEFA Women's Champions League victory / David Lidstrom for Getty
Melanie Serrano, Barcelona’s backup leftback, has been a very important veteran presence for Barcelona, especially this past season. Melanie has been a player at the club since 2003, longer than some of the B-team players have been a