Barcelona have solved defensive problems this summer

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For far too long now, Barcelona have struggled with the art of defending.

No matter the personnel employed by the organisation, certain aspects of play have continued to haunt the Blaugrana back four.

Chief amongst this has been their Achilles heel of a failure to deal with high balls into the box for which a simple, straightforward header to clear will suffice.

For a team as renowned as the Catalans have been over the past few years, it seems incomprehensible that this problem area would continue to be overlooked.

Square pegs

That the club took a "square pegs in round holes" approach for years by utilising defensive midfielders in the position rather than (until this summer) buying natural central defenders, is a bit of a head-scratcher.

There's certainly been money available for the purchase of the same.

Between the acquisition of Dmytro Chygrynskiy in August 2009 and Jeremy Mathieu in July 2014, Barca spent out somewhere in the region of €405.5 million on players.

Why couldn't some of that budget have been set aside for a player that was so obviously and desperately required?

The oft-quoted excuse that there aren't enough centre backs who become available and are of the quality that Barca require is convenient but incorrect. Players are always available at the right price.

Tough negotiations

It might take tough negotiation to drive a hard bargain, but if a player wants to leave and there is a buying club, then the deal happens if a certain valuation is met.

The onus is on the buying club to pay a bare minimum of market rate or far more likely a hefty premium on top added by the selling club.

Tito Vilanova's pursuit of Thiago Silva for Barcelona is a case in point. Paris Saint-Germain weren't keen to sell their captain at all but importantly he wanted to come to Barcelona and, if the Catalans had invested appropriate funds, he would be wearing Blaugrana.

Barca refused to be held to ransom and that is in some way commendable, but given their immense need for someone of Silva's evident quality, you would have to question why Barcelona's priorities continued to remain in other areas of the pitch.

Did they really need to sign Neymar? Do they need Luis Suarez? Not at the expense of a balanced squad.

Everyone knows that you must have a decent defence to win championships. The "you score three, we'll score four" mentality doesn't really hold too much water as an argument any longer if the equilibrium isn't right elsewhere.

Four central defenders

Finally after five long years, the arrival of Mathieu from Valencia and subsequently ex-Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen, has given supporters genuine hope that the presence both will now bring at the heart of defence will enable the Catalans to hit the heights of a few seasons ago. Literally and metaphorically speaking.

Mathieu has already proved a solid acquisition in his opening games and Barca look a far more attractive proposition with him in situ.

Adding Vermaelen into the mix when fit gives Barca the option of four natural centre-backs of genuine quality, Marc Bartra and Gerard Pique making up the quartet.

Fear and loathing of aerial combat will be a thing of the past.

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