Football

Barcelona needed a new defender more than Neymar

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Barcelona's defensive frailties were exposed by Bayern Munich (©GettyImages)
Barcelona's defensive frailties were exposed by Bayern Munich (©GettyImages).

Barcelona recently announced that they signed Brazilian forward Neymar from Santos.

Now, even though Neymar is a world-class forward who was wanted by some of the best teams in Europe and could turn out to be a coup considering his reasonable price tag, one gets the feeling that the Catalans are forgetting their most pressing issue.

When Barcelona suffered the most embarrassing pair of losses in their recent history, the frailties of their attack, especially without talisman Lionel Messi were cruelly exposed - but even more apparent was the complete ineptness of their defence to deal with a supreme Bayern Munich attack.

The lack of defensive structure was also exposed by an average AC Milan side, as well as French champions Paris Saint-Germain. And to strengthen this less than impressive defence should be on top of Barca's priotrity list this summer.

To know the importance of their consolidating the defence line, one just needs to look at current Champions league winners Bayern Munich. With the acquisition of Dante from Borussia Monchengladbach and defensive midfielder Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao, the Bavarians made sure that one or two injuries would not affect the quality of the team.

And this paid handsome dividends, not only because the Brazilian centre-half was one of the standout performers in the team, but also because through Dante the team was able to shrug off the loss of first-choice center-back Holger Badstuber to go on and win the Champions League and the Bundesliga.

This was exactly what Barcelona were lacking this season. With age finally catching up with captain Carles Puyol, and Javier Mascherano's deployment in the heart of defence not being the greatest brainwave in the world, Barca were left with only one quality centre-back in the run up to the most important matches of the season. The likes of Adriano and Marc Bartra were never going to stand up against the best in the game, and as a result, Barca suffered.

When such pressing issues still exist, one has to question Barca's further investment in the attacking third.

One can only hope that Barcelona are not going for a repeat of the last two seasons' transfer windows when, despite the problem area being in defence, Barca spent significant millions on attackers.

If this happens, we could again be in for a repeat performance this season, where Barca could end up crumbling when matched up against the best opposition. A look at the all-conquering Barcelona side in Pep Guardiola's maiden season at the club shows what the current side are missing - able performers such as Gabriel Milito and Rafael Marquez were present at the club to give back-up as and when needed to the established first-choice partnership of Pique and Puyol. Currently, no such established central defenders exist in the Barca squad. 

However, the need of the hour for the Camp Nou outfit is not to sign players of the mould of Marquez and Milito but to make a marquee signing in defence, combined with the addition of a capable rotation player for the position.

This is because Puyol's advancing years means that he is no longer capable of playing a whole season at the highest level of fitness, and so should be used sparingly. A top-bracket central defender, such as the likes of Neven Subotic, Mats Hummels or Daniel Agger could fit in perfectly with the current crop of players at Camp Nou.

Other options could be to sign up and coming players such as Roma's Marquinhos, Schalke's Kyriakos Papadapoulos and Real Sociedad's Inigo Martinez. However these players, while being better than the current crop of centre-backs at Barca, still require time to reach their best.

This is therefore a less than ideal proposition, and could prove ineffective for the coming season.

With the dearth of top quality defenders in the market, Barcelona need to move quickly if they are to avoid a repeat of this season's misfortunes.

 

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Topics:
Barcelona
Football
Neymar
La Liga
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