Barcelona have confirmed the signing of Brazilian attacker Malcom from Bordeaux for an initial £36.5m just a day after Roma announced an agreement of their own to set up potentially lengthy back and forth. The 21-year-old had appeared set for a move to the Italian capital on Monday, after both Roma and Bordeaux confirmed an agreement thought to be in the region of £35.5m but Barcelona stole a march on the Italians with an eleventh hour bid, and Malcom has now agreed a five-year contract with the Spanish giants.
This has all the markings of a strange transfer especially considering the footballing aspect amid the brouhaha of the legality and whatever shenanigans went on behind the scenes. Where Malcom fits into the Barcelona jigsaw is a legitimate question that needs asking.
Barcelona are blessed with a plethora of attacking talents, and manager Ernesto Valverde has a tried and tested 4-3-3 formation he normally sticks to. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are pretty much guaranteed two of the three spots upfront, and Ousmane Dembele could complete the triumvirate. Dembele has had a rotten time since moving to Barcelona last summer, with injuries and a severe lack of form hampering his progress. He could lose out in a one-on-one competition against Malcom.
Malcom has undoubted talent, the 21-year-old dubbed the ‘new Coutinho’ joined Bordeaux from Corinthians in January 2016 for just €5m. The French club are one of the biggest sides in Ligue 1, winning the title in 2009 but have fallen on hard times in recent years. They struggled in the first half of the season but Gus Poyet’s appointment’s galvanized them to a sixth place finish. Malcom was instrumental to that.
In 38 league appearances last season Malcom scored 12 times and provided seven assists, a tally that would have been greater given he created 87 chances for his teammates. He was his side’s greatest goalscoring threat as well as their main creative hub. Club president Stephane Martin was understandably reluctant to sell his prized asset and rejected a €15m offer from Wolfsburg last summer and did well to stave off Premier League interest in January. But a talented youngster of Malcom’s standing can only be held for so long.
Perhaps Malcom should have moved to Roma first – a relatively low-pressure environment compared to Barcelona and with a guarantee of regular playing time. But he clearly believes in his own abilities and it will be interesting to see how this move pans out, especially with Roma’s threat of legal action going on in the background.