To Buy or Not to Buy: FC Barcelona's Transfer Conundrum
With the new season looming, Barcelona still have questions left unanswered after a quiet transfer window.
The new era under Tito Vilanova was never going to be one of drastic change. Perhaps its merely the agonising wait for a season that promises retribution, but the dull preseason is leaving some fans a little restless (myself included).
As far as we know, the club is considering strengthening the centre of defence or the defensive midfield position, but only intend to buy one player. Indeed, Tito Vilanova has remarked that a player who could fill both roles would be perfect.
Such players don't grow on trees, however, and it remains a mystery as to whether Barca prioritise their defence or midfield.
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Why Barca Should Sign a Centre Back
Dejan Lovren in action for OL.
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
The mantra coming from the Catalan giants is that a central defender is their priority. Indeed, it seems the obvious solution to a problem which may have cost Barca one or two major trophies last year.
Between Piqué's poor form and injuries to Puyol, Abidal and young Fontas, the club's defensive stocks were laid bare.
Despite his impressive transition to playing as a centre back, Javier Mascherano was also criticised for his performances in decisive fixtures. For all his defensive qualities, he still may lack the innate defensive savvy a world-class centre back possesses.
InsideFutbol reports the club may turn to Lyon's promising Dejan Lovren. Is this, however, the sort of move Barca fans want to see? No need reminding anyone of recent failed signings Caceres, Henrique or Chygrynskiy...
Why Barca Should Not Sign a Centre Back
Marc Bartra tussles with PSG's Kevin Gameiro.
Like Pep Guardiola, Vilanova prefers to work with small squads and back youth players.
There is mounting speculation Vilanova will, instead of signing a player, turn to Marc Bartra. The elegant 21-year-old has impressed in Barca's preseason campaign, earning praise from his captain among others, who believes that he will become an "important player" for Barcelona in years to come.
Bartra isn't the only one, either. Marc Muniesa will be out until February with a knee injury, but Andreu Fontas, returning from an injury of his own, will be keen on time as well.
To add to this, in breaking news this week, Eric Abidal announced his intention to be ready to play again by December.
With three quality centre backs already, an abundance of youth and the promise of a miraculous comeback, Barca could be best served waiting, at least until January, in signing their next defender.
Why Barca Should Sign a Midfielder
Arsenal's Alex Song
Victor Fraile/Getty Images
Despite the expectation that Barca strengthen their defence, the Catalans continue to be linked with midfielders.
First it was Javi Martinez, now rumours focus on Arsenal's Alex Song. According to local media, Song is now Vilanova's priority signing as he fills the bill as a defensive midfielder capable of covering in central defence.
Why would they want Song? It would indicate Vilanova is not entirely content with his backup options for Sergio Busquets. The Catalans never really replaced Yaya Toure, and after Seydou Keita's departure, it appears there is desire to add some steel to Barca's midfield.
Jonathan Dos Santos, presumably next in line for the defensive midfield position, is a good player, but may not be good enough to step into Busquets' shoes if needed.
Why Barca Should Not Sign a Midfielder
Sergio Busquets: Always Fit
David Ramos/Getty Images
Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Cesc Fabregas, Thiago, Afellay, Dos Santos... That's why.
There is enough quality among those names to cover three teams' midfields, let alone one. Why on earth would a player like Alex Song want to come and warm a bench for a living?
Granted, only Busquets is a real defensive midfielder, but with Barca's style of play, it is not difficult to envision a midfield with three other names functioning adequately.
Add to this, Sergio Busquets hardly misses a game. He started in 46 of Barca's 64 games last year (stats via FCBarcelona.com) and will expect to at least equal that this season.
Then there is also Javier Mascherano; he's made a reasonable defensive midfielder in the past as well.
There is little sense in spending heavily on a midfielder.
Conclusion: What Should Barca Do?
Vilanova has decisions to make.
David Ramos/Getty Images
It's not an easy question to answer.
Depending on players recovering from injury is never a safe option, and ideally a player should be brought in.
However, there is no point bringing in a player who is not somebody of real quality. After all, the club does not need any more money going wasted.
Defence should remain the priority as well.
If a good opportunity presents itself, Barcelona should act. Otherwise, they should sit tight and back the players they have already.
What do you think Vilanova should do with his remaining €26m? Leave a comment below or on my twitter. Follow @KieranSobels