Barcelona Transfer: Top 10 Replacements for Eric Abidal
10. Fabian Johnson, Hoffenheim, Age: 24
Fabian Johnson has played every position at Hoffenheim bar goalkeeper, centre-back and centre forward.
That being said, he prefers playing in midfield, but he'll basically be playing as a quasi-winger for Barcelona.
Versatility isn't Johnson's only strength, because he consistently creates shots for his teammates.
But he needs to be more efficient with his passes, because his 76 percent pass completion rate would rank the lowest at Barça by some distance.
9. Jetro Willems, PSV Eindhoven, Age: 17
Forget about Erik Pieters, focus on the kid who has replaced him—Jetro Willems.
For a 17-year-old, he is very technically adept, he has heart and can only get better.
One worrying thing I have noticed about Willems is his tendency to run out of gas in the second half, so hopefully he gets on that treadmill in the offseason.
Rather than buy him in several years time for an inflated transfer fee, Barcelona should take a calculated risk on him by submitting a €5-10 million bid.
8. Cristian Ansaldi, Rubin Kazan, Age: 25
Cristian Ansaldi is one of those determined, road-running full-backs.
He boasts a good cross, has solid physical attributes and is reliable in defence.
7. Fabián Monzón, Nice, Age: 24
Fabián Monzón was an important member of the Argentine 2008 Olympic gold-medal-winning squad.
I recall some impressive performances from him, but he's yet to live up to the potential he showed during that tournament.
His teammates Ángel Di María, Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Agüero have all earned moves to big clubs since, but Monzón is still the same Monzón.
He is always wanting to go forward, and has scored five goals from left-back this season.
6. Dennis Aogo, Hamburg, Age: 25
Dennis Aogo would be a perfect fit for Barcelona because he is always looking to play forward passes.
It's one thing to have that mentality, it's another to be able to execute efficiently, and that is what Aogo can do.
He has created 49 shots for his teammates, sent in 56 accurate long balls whilst completing 83.5 percent of his passes.
Those numbers are Barcelona-esque.
5. José Ángel, Roma, Age: 22
José Ángel played it smart, because not only did he choose Roma over Barcelona, presumably because of Luis Enrique, he is exceeding expectations.
Who would have thought a Sporting Gijón player would be of Roma's standard. Mind you, David Villa is also a Gijón alumni.
In the distant future, Enrique could be the Barcelona manager and he'll bring Ángel with him. Of course, this is assuming the young Spaniard keeps up his form.
4. Álvaro Pereira, Porto, Age: 26
Álvaro Pereira is an energetic, attacking left-back who would be more at home playing as a wing-back in a 3-5-2 formation.
He is so hyperactive that he could run up and down the flanks for the entire game.
3. Christian Fuchs, Schalke, Age: 25
Christian Fuchs can do it all: pass, shoot, tackle and run.
This season, he has formed a lethal combination with teenager prodigy Julian Draxler on the left.
At times, Fuchs does get caught out of position but, when he stays disciplined and keeps his focus, he averages three interceptions per game.
2. Filipe Luis, Atlético Madrid, Age: 26
I remember watching in horror as Filipe Luis was stretchered off the field with a broken leg. I'll never forget his then-manager Miguel Ángel Lotina burying his face in his hands.
It was surprising that Atlético Madrid bought Luis for a substantial fee even after a broken leg.
It's taken about a year or so, but he's again playing at a high level from a defensive perspective, having won back possession 193 times in 24 games.
1. Jordi Alba, Valencia, Age: 22
Jordi Alba is destined to come back to Barcelona because he was at La Masia for seven years.
Supposedly, he was "too small" for Barcelona, which is why they released him. This seems very strange, particularly for the Catalan giants, because they are about technique, finesse and high football IQ.
Alba and Jeremy Mathieu have alternated from left-back to left winger this season. Mathieu is the more solid left-back, whereas Alba is the more explosive winger.
For Barça, Alba could potentially be the left-sided Dani Alves, which means the opposing team would have to defend against marauding full-back runs from both flanks.
To those who say Alba can't defend, he has intercepted the ball 73 times, so he does track back.
Please read Most Underappreciated Forwards Right Now.
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