As our friends over at Barca’s Blaugranes have reported, the recent signing of Paulinho has left Sergi Roberto asking questions about his future with Barcelona. Several clubs have responded to the extremely talented Spanish midfielder’s situation, and frankly Everton should be among them.
Roberto spent last season as a right back, because Barcelona doesn’t seem to think that signing a real top class right back is actually necessary to their ambitions (which, given the fact that they are now signing their players from China, may actually be an indication about the club’s current ambitions). So Roberto, a central midfielder by trade, was plugged into play.
The Spaniard has also spent time on the right wing for Barcelona, but as a natural CM performs the sort of cutting-in play that Ronald Koeman wants from his wingers. Here is his radar playing out wide from the first half of last season -
Of course this is less than a full season and is a fullback position, but nonetheless it is a good example of the kind of quality Roberto brings to the pitch. He had 1.1 key passes per 90, all from open play, and completed over two-thirds of his long balls and nearly three-fourths of his dribbles. All of this is from deep on the pitch, imagine him having fewer defensive responsibilities and more freedom going forward.
Roberto’s release clause is reported to be at around £40m, so he is cheaper than Gylfi Sigurdsson. Frankly, he’s a far better open field player. We would have suggested him before but there was no reason to think he was available until Barca decided to invest in players at his position who aren’t as good as him.
He’s not a goalscorer, but he’s great in possession and in overlapping play and I think he’d be brilliant working with Davy Klaassen as he drifts in. What’s more, he could fill the Dutchman’s role if the situation called upon it.
Why Barcelona feels the need to turn on its homegrown talents, I have no idea. The purchase of Paulinho upsets the stability of both Roberto and Sergi Samper, both La Masia products, so that they can chase a player whose move is best explained in unsavoury terms. But their loss can be Everton’s gain if we are willing to strike.