Barcelona technical secretary Robert Fernandez has confirmed that the Catalans are expected to sign a new striker before the La Liga opener against Real Betis on 20 August. The club chief however admits that some members of the current squad may also leave the Nou Camp before the end of the transfer window amid reports linking Sergi Samper with a loan move to Valencia.
The La Liga and Copa del Rey Champions have been on the hunt for a versatile forward as back-up for Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, the famous trio dubbed the 'MSN', since last summer's departure of Pedro Rodriguez to Chelsea. However, with less than 10 days to the start of La Liga, the club are yet to sign anyone because the main targets have refused to move to the Nou Camp to serve as mere understudy for the established MSN.
The likes of Luciano Vietto, Kevin Gameiro Nolito, Hatem Ben Arfa, Gabriel Jesus and Ousmane Dembele have all been linked with Barcelona before deciding their futures laid somewhere else.
Barcelona director of professional sports Albert Soler revealed earlier this month that the club had been forced to activate a plan B, with Fernandez making a desperate trip to South America to find a new target.
The Catalans have since been linked with the likes of Gremio striker Luan, West Ham-bound Jonathan Calleri, coveted Gabriel Barbosa Gabigol and even veteran André-Pierre Gignac.
Fernandez, who has already returned from his scouting trip, has refused to name the new target but did confirm that Barcelona are expected to complete his signing in the coming days.
"(The new signing) will be a striker. We had to analyse all the things that were on the table and so I had to travel (to South America to address different alternatives). After that we will take the most opportune decision for the team," Fernandez explained after the 3-2 victory over Sampdoria as quoted by AS. He added: "It will be (done) before the start of La Liga, that is at least my intention."
It seems the signing of the number nine will complete Barcelona's summer overhaul following the arrivals of Denis Suárez, Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Digne and André Gomes.
Fernandez hinted some players may still need to leave the Nou Camp either on loan or on a permanent basis to make way for the new signings. Thomas Vermaelen, Dani Alves, Martin Montoya, Alex Song, Sandro Ramirez, Marc Bartra, Adriano and Alen Halilovic have already been offloaded during the current transfer window while recent reports have suggested Samper too may soon be heading for the exit to continue his development at Valencia.
Fernandez touched on the pruning operation: "Luis Enrique and I have to sit down and talk about many things, this (the potential exits) will be one of them.
"We always think about the best option for the player, if a player has to leave it will be for him to improve. The clearest example is Denis Suarez, he had to leave and now is a member of the squad. If we have to do it again, we will do it."