Barcelona have announced that they have finally signed a replacement for Catalan legend and former captain Carles Puyol, after agreeing a four year deal with Valencia for Jeremy Mathieu, for a fee reported to be around €20 million, according to the Marca.
The news will come as a huge relief to the Camp Nou faithful despite adding Luis Suarez alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar in what looks to be the most potent strike-force in world football.
New coach Luis Enrique has been desperately trying to shore up the centre of his defence ahead of the new season following the void left by the retiring Carles Puyol, and after weeks of negotiations, Barcelona have finally landed the 6"3 French international.
For the last 15-years, the hard man of Barcelona and Spanish football, Carles Puyol, has shouldered the responsibility in the centre of defence and finding a replacement has proved an almost impossible task.
Puyol joined Barcelona as an 18-year old way back in 1996, and made his first team debut in 1999. By the time the 26-year old took over the at the captaincy at the end of the 2003/04 season, he was the rock in the heart of the Barcelona defence, and courted by most of the world's top clubs.
During a 10-year spell as leader of the Catalan club, he won six League titles, two Spanish Cups, six Spanish Super Cups, three UEFA Champions League titles, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA World Club Cups, an incredible run of success that seems impossible to match.
For the last few years the Catalan giants have tried and failed to sign a long-term replacement for Puyol, mainly because of the club's refusal to pay over the odds for a defender, a problem they clearly haven't had when it comes to their attacking acquisitions.
As a result they have missed a few opportunities in recent years, most notably, Javi Martínez who decided to join Bayern Munich from Athletico Bilbao, Argentinian defender Ezequiel Garay and most recently David Luiz who has just left Chelsea for PSG.
Mathieu will be a great acquisition for Barcelona
Enrique will be hoping that Mathieu can settle into life alongside Pique as quickly as possible, however expectations are that he will need to sign at least one more central defender as cover, especially considering the amount of time Pique has spent injured in recent season, with Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen still on the club's radar.
The Frenchman, who spent four years at Valencia, is the first central-defender Barcelona has bought in more than five-years and has had a €50 million buy-out clause inserted in his contract.
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