Barcelona switch focus from one veteran Dutch striker to another

With Lionel Messi injured for up to eight weeks and results wobbling, the shallow nature of Barcelona’s squad has been exposed, beginning a surge in links with possible January arrivals.

Judging by the first two rumours off the rank, the criteria Luis Enrique is hoping to meet in order to provide back-up for his holy trilogy of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, really are quite niche.

First the Catalans were linked with former Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt and now it’s Robin van Persie’s name in the frame.

Perhaps Enrique has specified to his scouts that he wants an experienced Dutch striker who has played for Feyenoord, before peaking in England and then moving to Fenerbahce.

The difference is that Van Persie, 32, is three years younger than his compatriot and can arguably still deliver the goods for a few seasons to come, especially used more sparingly.

The Dutchman’s summer exit divided opinion at Old Trafford, where RVP had been lauded for almost single-handedly delivering Manchester United the title in his debut season, before injuries began affecting his goal returns.

Van Persie has notched four goals in 10 appearances early in his Fenerbahce career, but is not a guaranteed starter, meaning the lure of the Camp Nou would surely turn the former Arsenal hotshot’s head.

With Messi crocked and first-choice understudy Pedro sold to Chelsea in the summer, Enrique’s policy of promoting a couple of Barcelona B prospects hasn’t quite worked out.

Enrique is aware that patience is at a premium within the club’s demanding support and neither of the 20-year-old strikers he’s blooded this season has yet hit the target.

Spaniards Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez have featured six and eight times respectively without scoring and it now seems inevitable that Barca bring in a more established name as cover in January.

That could well be RVP, who has just reached the personal milestone of 50 goals for the Netherlands.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.