While FC Barcelona chose not to sign a defender in the recent summer transfer window, it was more to do with their lack of a sense of priority than that of proper player.
It is difficult to believe that the only candidate available who could have adopted was Thiago Silva. The fact that Barcelona prioritised the signing of Neymar ahead of a defender perhaps manifests their callousness.
While world-class defenders are a rare commodity nowadays, Europe has a plethora of good defenders who are just a few shades from being world class. While Liverpool made the most of their susceptible defence and signed Mamadou Sakho for €19 million, Barcelona chose to stay silent, even after being linked to the Frenchman.
When PSG signed Marquinhos, it was evident that Sakho went down the pecking order and that was the opportune moment that Liverpool capitalised. Physically strong, Sakho has what it takes to bully the opposition – one aspect which is certainly missing in the Barcelona defence.
Sakho is not only about physical strength; he is as impressive, when his passing ability is concerned. With a 92% success rate and his propensity to play short passes, he fits the bill for a Barcelona defender.
In the absence of Carles Puyol, Barcelona’s defence is short of a natural leader and having captained most of his previous teams, Sakho has the qualities to lead the defence and also spur his teammates to give their best. Barcelona still chose to focus all their energy on Sakho’s ex-teammate and captain, Thiago Silva.
Similarly, on being linked with Mats Hummels, yet another deal which did not materialise, it is understandable as to why the Catalans chose not to further their interest (refer to Hummels’ mistakes in last year’s Champions League).
Despite being a defender par excellence, the towering German is far from a finished product. Instead, his teammate, Neven Subotic should have been a better option for Barcelona. While it might be argued that Sakho’s style of playing the short passes wouldn’t have complemented Gerard Pique, who is better at that, but a tough tackling Subotic could just have been the ideal replacement for Puyol.
Sound technically and having an excellent positioning sense, the Serbian defender could just have been the player Barcelona needed the most (certainly more than Neymar). At 24, Subotic’s experience is beyond his age and an important factor is that he is a champion and has the experience of being a winner at the top stage.
He also scores goals and with age on his side, could have forged a long-term partnership with Pique. More importantly, he wouldn’t have been as expensive as the talismanic Thiago Silva or the flamboyant Hummels.
Barcelona’s lack of a sense of priority and penchant for some horrendous transfers have been highlighted for the past few seasons and when the season enters the business, they run the risk of yet another humiliation at the hands of another European giant, should they choose not to buy a quality centre-back in January.
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