Last season, despite winning the La Liga title, Barcelona would have felt they had underachieved by not reaching the Spanish Cup or Champions League final, such are the high standards at the Catalan club.
I feel the main reason for their failure to reach a cup final was the defensive cracks that are beginning to be exposed in the Barcelona back-line, as seen in the 4-0 and 3-0 defeats by Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-finals.
These alarming defeats, coupled with the fact that Carles Puyol is in the twilight of his career are the reasons why I feel they need to recruit a new centre-back.
The new recruit needs to be a ball-playing centre-half to be able to fit in with their style and will, therefore, hopefully become part of the spine of the team for years to come.
This article looks at three centre-backs that Barcelona could sign in the coming transfer window.
Thomas Vermaelen | Arsenal
The Arsenal captain didn’t have his best season last year but there is no doubting that on his day he can be a striker’s nightmare to try and get past.
I feel his poor season was down to the added expectations placed on his shoulders after being made captain for last season - and he just couldn’t deal with the pressure.
In terms of his ability he is quite quick across the ground and can match most strikers in terms of aerial prowess, although due to the style of the Spanish league is a less needed attribute as most of the football is played on the ground not in the air.
With him being left footed this could add some balance to the Barcelona defence with his probable defensive partner Gerard Pique being predominately right footed.
He also has the ability to play as a left-back and therefore offers cover for Jordi Alba at left-back, an area which is lacking after the departure of Eric Abidal.
Whether or not Arsenal would want to sell their captain might be influenced by their ability to find a replacement, but they have been strongly lined with Swansea City defender Ashley Williams.
David Luiz | Chelsea
David Luiz is a fan favourite at Chelsea but it is rumoured that Jose Mourinho has reservations about the player’s ability to defend. He is quite prone to the occasional burst forward, which does leave the back-line with a gaping hole in it, and that has been taken advantage of by opposing teams in the past.
However, he has managed to control the frequency of those bursts forward and at Barcelona, due to them constantly dominating possession, he is less likely to burst forward and when he does it is less likely to be taken advantage of by the opposition.
He clearly has the technique desired by the Catalan club both in terms of passing vision and his ability to score from distance, as seen several times last season at Stamford Bridge.
He can be prone to putting in a physical tackle, which can sometimes be deemed as a dirty challenge, and in La Liga it could lead to him receiving several red cards over the course of a season.
Whether or not this transfer takes place rests primarily upon the shoulders of Mr Mourinho and whether or not he believes David Luiz is good enough defensively to remain at Stamford Bridge. This ability has been shown at times in the Confederations Cup for Brazil and could persuade Mourinho to stick with the long-haired Brazilian, but if he doesn’t Barcelona will surely be looking to recruit him.
Mats Hummels | Borussia Dortmund
Finally it is time to examine the German centre-back, who was pivotal in enabling Dortmund to reach the Champions League final last season.
He is highly regarded around the world of football for being a strong centre-back and would definitely be able to add some stealth to the Barcelona defence. He has the ability to time his challenges to perfection and again is strong in the air which is beneficial in both boxes.
He has at times in the past allowed the big occasions to affect his performances, most notably in the semi-final of the European Championships of 2012 when Mario Ballotelli ran rings around him for the whole game, and that short back pass last season against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final.
Obviously this would be a concern for the Catalan club due to the amount of big games that they are expected to play in every year. However, Hummels has won the German League and the German Cup so has shown he has the ability to perform consistently over a season.
Whether or not Hummels would be available is another matter, but with players like Mario Gotze leaving and Robert Lewandowski expect to leave, Hummels may be tempted to join the exodus if the Catalan club make an approach.
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