Josep Maria Bartomeu
Josep Maria Bartomeu and the Barcelona board faced a vote of no confidence during a difficult summer JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images

La Liga leaders Barcelona are set to conduct further surgery on their playing squad during the forthcoming January transfer window, with the latest reports from Spain suggesting that president Josep Maria Bartomeu wants the club to offload fringe players before they focus on further arrivals.

Barcelona endured a notably difficult summer in the transfer window following the world-record sale of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain and struggled to land their priority targets before eventually sealing high-profile deal for Borussia Dortmund forward Ousmane Dembele, who suffered a serious hamstring injury on his first La Liga start.

The previous haul of Paulinho, Nelson Semedo and Marlon Santos - who was promptly dispatched to OGC Nice on a season-long loan - had hardly inspired confidence, while number one target Philippe Coutinho ultimately proved unattainable as Liverpool remained defiant in the face of numerous lucrative offers.

Aside from Jeremy Mathieu, Cristian Tello, Jordi Masip and a handful of loanees in Douglas, Sergi Samper and Munir El Haddadi, Barcelona also struggled to negotiate the exits of several bit-part players before the Spanish summer deadline.

Now, according to Sport, general manager Pep Segura and CEO Oscar Grau have been told to sell before attempting to secure new signings in the New Year, with the Barcelona board apparently seeing it as a priority to offload up to four players in a bid to bring down the wage bill. In turn, the fire sale is needed to generate funds for further arrivals in addition to fulfilling head coach Ernesto Valverde's request to reduce the size of a 24-man first-team squad.

The Catalan publication claim that Valverde wants to find more opportunities for the club's talented crop of La Masia graduates, which currently includes the likes of Carles Alena, Jose Arnaiz and Marc Cucurella.

The list of players whom Barcelona are said to be open to offers for is a familiar one, with Arda Turan, who currently has two-and-a-half years left to run on a contract that pays him a rumoured €8.2m (£7.3m, $9.7m) a season, leading the way having yet to play any competitive first-team football in 2017-18.

Right-back Aleix Vidal may also be obtainable for the right price, along with midfield duo Denis Suarez and Andre Gomes and former Valencia striker Paco Alcacer.

Deulofeu only returned to Catalonia from Everton in June after Barcelona exercised their €12m buy-back clause following a productive loan stint with AC Milan, although his second spell at the Nou Camp looks likely to be short-lived despite his 14 appearances under Valverde to date.

Although not referenced in this specific report, Thomas Vermaelen and Rafinha Alcantara are among the other names to have previously been linked with a January exit.

Selling a few of those aforementioned players could hold the key to the January transfer hopes of Barcelona, who have defied that forgettable summer and an embarrassing Spanish Super Cup defeat to sit four points clear at the summit of La Liga after winning 11 and drawing one of their opening 12 matches.

Coutinho remains their priority target for the winter, although soon-to-be out-of-contract Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil - formerly of fierce rivals Real Madrid - has now emerged as a cheaper alternative.