After a miserable defensive season in 2011-12, FC Barcelona has made rebuilding the defense its number one priority this offseason.
Barça president Sandro Rosell and new manager Tito Vilanova have already made a move by acquiring former Masia product Jordi Alba from Valencia from €14 million.
Now that Barça has Alba, the focus shifts to finding a new center-back as Carles Puyol’s starting XI days are getting slimmer.
While there have been many names rumored to be heading to the Camp Nou, for me, there’s only one name Tito Vilanova and FC Barcelona should have pushed hard to sign:
Now I know he recently signed an extension at Borussia Dortmund which is supposed to keep him at the Bundesliga champions until 2017, but that doesn’t mean the German club cannot send him and his contract to another club. A contract extension doesn't mean the player would not accept a transfer to a bigger club.
But let's be honest, Hummels isn't going anywhere.
So why should've Tito Vilanova and FC Barcelona pushed hard for Mats Hummels?
Here are just a few reasons.
Silva staying at Milan.
As we all know, Barcelona was doing everything that they could to try and sign AC Milan's Thiago Silva. The 27-year-old Brazilian was Sandro Rosell's number one option to be the new CB of the future. It was reported that Milan were looking for over €40 million from Barcelona for Silva. With a budget of €50 million, Rosell was not going to spend all of the budget on one player.
While Barça looked at Thiago Silva, I can't help but ask why they didn't pursue Mats Hummels? He was a hot name before Euro 2012 and even before Dortmund won the Bundesliga title!
At 23, Hummels is younger than Silva and would be a better investment for the future.
Why have Thiago Silva for five years when you can have Hummels for ten years?
Thiago Silva rejected a €40 million transfer to Paris Saint-Germain and has signed an extension with the Rossineri.
Barcelona spent too much time trying to woo Thiago Silva instead of looking at other options. Now, Hummels has signed an extension at Borussia Dortmund which would make his transfer nearly impossible for any team to pull off.
I understand Barcelona was trying to focus on Jordi Alba, but they spent quite a bit of time talking to AC Milan officials trying to make a nearly impossible deal for Silva.
Hummels shined at Euro 2012.
Mats Hummels showed the football world all of his talents and skills as he shined at Euro 2012. He dominated in games against Portugal, Denmark, and the Netherlands. His height, instinct and ball control were too much for opponents, as Germany moved past Greece in the quarterfinals.
While Hummels played very well for the first four games at Euro 2012, he does tend to play out of position—something that has its benefits but it can lead to costly mistakes. Hummels made a tremendous mistake in the semifinal against Italy. Instead of playing his position and staying inside the penalty box to help cover Mario Balotelli, Hummels chased after Antonio Cassano who quickly turned and lobbed the ball to Balotelli who headed the ball over Holer Badstuber and into the back of the net.
Hummels and Germany were eliminated after a 2-1 loss to the Italians.
Although Hummels had a solid Euro 2012, he was left out of the UEFA's 23-man squad of the tournament. But anyone that watched Germany will tell you Mats Hummels was one of the best center-backs in the tournament.
With Hummels' overall performance, he showed that he is one of the best defenders in Europe—something any team, let alone FC Barcelona, could use.
Tasci is an option.
With Mats Hummels staying at Borussia Dortmund, the question becomes, "Are there any options that are equally as good as Mats Hummels in the transfer window?"
Let's look at the options.
The most affordable option is to not buy a CB and instead go with one of Barça's youth products. Marc Bartra and Marc Muniesa will be part of the first team next season. Both lack experience but what better way to get experience than with trial by fire, right?
Barcelona can acquire their former Masia product Alberto Botia for only €2.5 million due to a clause in his contract. Botia currently plays for Sporting Gijon.
Rumors have gone around that Barcelona is also interested in Chelsea's David Luiz as well. Another Premier League player who's name has come up is Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen. Both Luiz and Vermaelen would certainly come with a heavy price tag, easliy nearing €30 million.
Olympique Lyon's Dejan Lovern is another player that Barcelona are apparently considering. The Croatian defender has an estimated transfer value of €14 million.
"I've heard that I'm a candidate for Barca. If an offer comes from Barcelona, you have to get together and have talks."
It's a tough call to decide who would be the best option for Barcelona. Of course their youngsters need the playing time and would be the cheapest option as well. Alberto Botia at €2.5 million is not a bad deal.
If Tito wants to make a splash in the transfer window, he can go after David Luiz or Thomas Vermaelen but the price may be higher than €30 million. Both Lovern and Tasci are young and would come relatively inexpensively.
But would any of the players mentioned be as good or a better option than Mats Hummels would have been? Also, are there going to be other top center-backs hitting the transfer market anytime soon? These are some of the things Tito Vilanova and Sandro Rosell need to consider.
Now that Jordi Alba has been signed, Tito Vilanova, Sandro Rosell and the rest of the FC Barcelona officials have a tough decision to make: Who do they go after for at center-back?
This is not an easy decision to make, as is any transfer of a player to your team. In time, we will see what Tito and Sandro do to solidify the Barça back line.
In my opinion, I would have pushed hard to sign Mats Hummels because he was the most talented young center-back Barcelona could have realistically gotten.
Even though Hummels signed an extension, it is still possible to purchase his talents from Borussia Dortmund.
But don't hold your breath.
Barcelona should not have put all of their CB focus on trying to sign Thiago Silva. Much respect to Thiago Silva for staying loyal to his team and not leaving AC Milan for Barcelona or PSG. Now Barça will have to make due with either not signing a player or perhaps overspending for a CB.
My only hope is that Tito Vilanova and FC Barcelona does plenty of research on the player they sign if they don't go with one of their Masia youngsters.
Barcelona needs another signing like Gerard Pique was back in 2008, who cost only £5 million. Let's hope el blaugrana avoid another bust like Dmytro Chygrynskiy who spent only one year with the club and cost €25 million.
All Culés want to see is the defense strengthen up because it was FC Barcelona's downfall last season along with injuries.
We got Jordi Alba. Now it's time to get one more defender.
Spend wisely, Tito.
Follow me on Twitter:@XoelCardenas
Don’t forget to check out my other columns: