Where does Malcom fit with Barcelona?

Last night, Barcelona shocked everyone by stealing Malcom in front of Roma’s nose.

Everything was settled. All the Brazilian needed to do to complete the move to the Italian team was sign the contract and get through the medical examination. However, the scheduled late night flight to Italy was cancelled when Barcelona rang his agent’s phone, outbidding Roma at the last minute. The Catalans made the move because of frustrations over a couple of rejected offers for Chelsea’s Willian. Malcom was basically their plan B, so when they realized he might be gone and Willian was too expensive, the club’s transfer negotiators determined it was time to act.

After today’s presentation, the 21-year-old Brazilian will join his new teammates on their American tour. But, where does Malcom fit in Ernesto Valverde’s formation? Well, the truth is nowhere. The right wing is occupied by a little someone called Lionel Messi, with the excessively expensive Ousmane Dembele waiting in the wings. Malcom can play on the left flank as well, but he’s far less effective there. The only way this transfer makes sense for both Barcelona and Malcom’s career is if Valverde plans to use Messi out of position.

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The Argentinian has been steadily moving away from his natural right wing role as years have went by and has become more of a free-roaming shadow striker. Perhaps Valverde is looking to expand that aspect of Messi’s game this season, in which case Dembele could be the everyday starter and Malcom would be his backup. That’s the only case in which the transfer makes sense. Either that, or Barcelona intends to offload Dembele.

Otherwise, the Brazilian is wasting his talent by moving to a team where he would warm the bench and wait for a chance in minor competitions in order to earn more playing time, putting him in a similar predicament like Clement Lenglet. After much discussions, the central defender also joined Barcelona this summer, despite the fact the club already has Samuel Umtiti covering the position.

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