Bale the first piece for post-Pep Barcelona

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Barcelona could end the season having recorded triumphs in the Supercopa de España, the Club World Cup and the Copa del Rey, but this will be a campaign characterised more by failure than success.

The overriding feeling when the season comes to a close at the end of this month will be one of disappointment. Disappointment at relinquishing their Liga title to Real Madrid. Disappointment at the way they were beaten by an inferior Chelsea.

And, lastly, the most bitter pill the Blaugrana players have been forced to swallow is that Pep Guardiola, a mentor and a friend to each member of his squad, will leave his position in the summer.

This blow has been softened somewhat by the appointment of Tito Vilanova, Guardiola's current assistant, as the manager from next season onwards, but this will not fully prevent feelings of bereavement.

Vilanova will not have to oversee a rebuilding phase in the stead of Guardiola this summer, but a few tinkerings should be enough to restore Barca to their unquestioned status next term.

There will be no swingeing cuts, or a significant recruitment drive, yet Vilanova will be required to freshen up a tired squad, and make acquisitions with a view to moving on the old guard in the future.

Chiefly among those soon to be replaced, but perhaps not this summer, will be Carles Puyol who, at 34-years-old, has struggled with both consistency and injury this season.

A knee operation will keep the centre-back out of the Spain squad for Euro 2012 and, although Puyol maintains he has no plans to retire from international duty, his career is surely coming to an end.

Chelsea's David Luiz has reportedly been identified as a long-term replacement for Puyol and, although the latter still may have a few more seasons left in the tank, a move for the former could yet be forthcoming this summer.

The recruitment of Luiz is unlikely to be a priority for Vilanova, but he is expected to have the funds to land at least one marquee signing which could, according to reports, be Tottenham's Gareth Bale.

Marca claims that Barcelona have agreed a fee of around €40 million to prise the 22-year-old away from White Hart Lane; a coup indeed for the Catalan giants.

Harry Redknapp has, of course, moved to deny these reports, but speculation surrounding a potential transfer from north London to Catalonia for Bale will reach Cesc Fabregas-esque proportions as the summer progresses.

But, should Barca formalise their interest and complete the signing of Bale, the Wales international would become the first significant piece of post-Pep Barcelona, and can revitalise a squad in need of a fillip.

The acquisition of Bale can kill two birds with one stone; utilising him at left-back will reduce the workload on Puyol and provide Barca with more cover in central defence, whilst negating the need for Vilanova to sign another centre-back.

A dynamic left-sided defender has been arguably one of the only positions in which Barca have been found wanting in recent times, and the thought of Bale and Dani Alves on either side of the centre-backs is a frightening prospect indeed.

One of the hallmarks of a successful club is to recruit only when a player can provide a dimension otherwise unavailable to them, and Barca proved able to do this with the signing of Fabregas last year.

There are few players available who can enhance quite possibly the greatest club side in the history of the game, yet Bale is surely one of them.

A grand gesture in the transfer market this summer is not a necessity for Barca to keep pace with Real Madrid, but signing Bale has the potential to strike fear into the opposition before a ball is even kicked.

Barca need to move on from the departure of Guardiola and restore themselves to former glories next season. There can be no better way to do so than bring Bale to the Nou Camp.

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