Hector Moreno: FC Barcelona's Next Rafael Marquez?

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Hector Moreno: FC Barcelona's Next Rafael Marquez?
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With the recent injuries to Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, FC Barcelona have shown their fans and the football world that they are in need of a new centerback to fill in when needed.

Alex Song has been a solid signing so far as he’s played well when in games.

Of course Javier Mascherano does a fine job at CB.

In last Sunday’s El Clásico, Adriano played CB and didn’t do a bad job either.

Regardless of Adriano, Alex Song or Mascherano’s performances as CBs so far, neither are true CBs—and that’s exactly what Barcelona needs desperately to compete both for a UEFA Champions League title in 2013 and for the future.

Tito Vilanova has a few young CBs to choose from in Marc Muniesa, Marc Bartra and Andreu Fontas.

Muniesa is still recovering from a torn ACL, which he suffered in July.

Andreu Fontas missed most of the 2011-12 season with a knee injury but is now fit to play.

The player who is the most prepared to be a starting XI player is Marc Bartra.

But like Pep Guardiola before him, Tito Vilanova looks like he does not either trust or believe one of the aforementioned young CBs is ready to be a starter.

So what can be done?

I suppose go out and buy a new CB—something that probably should have been done two years ago.

David Ramos/Getty Images
Moreno stops Kaka

And the new CB that could be signed is Espanyol and Mexican international Hector Moreno.

According to TuttoMercato (Italy, via MundoDeportivo.com), Barcelona are interested in signing Hector Moreno in January 2013 to strengthen the back line.

So who is Hector Moreno?

Hector is a 24-year-old from Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico. He began his career at UNAM and was a part of Mexico’s U-17 squad that won the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

In late 2007, he went to Dutch club AZ Alkmaar. Moreno spent three years with the club before being transferred to Espanyol for an undisclosed fee. Moreno was named Espanyol’s best player of 2011-12 by the club. In international duty with the first squad, Hector was part of Mexico’s 2010 FIFA World Cup squad as well as the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup-winning team.

Hector’s strengths include being solid at marking and tackling. One of his main weaknesses is his lack of speed. 

I've seen Hector quite a bit, as all of Mexico’s international games are broadcast in the U.S. He’s a very good defender who also has excellent jumping abilities. Moreno is very physical, and some Mexican fans have even called him the “Mexican Pepe,” referring to Real Madrid’s notoriously tough defender.

As a Culé, I will not accept any player that is being linked with Pepe. Let’s say he can become FC Barcelona’s Rafael Marquez of the future, a tribute to the former Barça defender.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

So could he become "The New Rafa Marquez” for Barça? Sure.

I don’t think it’d be a bad signing for Sandro Rosell, just as long as the price is not too high. But the thing is that the price will probably be higher than Barcelona would want to spend.

Juventus and Inter Milan are also rumored to be looking to sign the kid in the January transfer window. This will surely drive up the price for Moreno, especially with Espanyol in dire need of money to pay the club's debts. Espanyol would not more than likely not sell him for anything less than €10-15 million.

Barcelona has the money to pay Espanyol the transfer fee, but the question is, “Will they do it?”

My guess is probably not.

Why?

Because Barça already spent £15 million on Alex Song, and they believe he is more than capable of being a CB to go along with his natural position of central defensive midfielder. Plus, Gerard Pique should be back to 100 percent soon as well.

One factor that is still to be determined is if Tito Vilanova and Sandro Rosell will eventually invest in signing a CB to one day replace Carles Puyol as a starting XI centerback. As I mentioned in a previous article, I don’t believe Carles Puyol is a regular starting-lineup player anymore.

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Marc Bartra, Marc Muniesa and Andreu Fontas are ready to go as well. We’ll see how long Tito waits to finally give them a shot to be the new Puyol.

While there are other CBs that Barcelona may consider signing, Hector Moreno would not be a bad signing, just as long as the price is right. However, the wisest choice would be to give one of the young Maisa-bred players a shot.

In an interview with ESPN RadioFormula, Rafa Marquez said he believes Hector Moreno would be a great signing for FC Barcelona: "Hector has all the qualities to play at any big club. He moves well with the ball. Perhaps what affects him is that he is not so fast. But with his experience, he can easily play at Barcelona."   

In 2003, Barcelona signed then-24-year-old Mexican CB Rafael Marquez with then-first-year manager Frank Rijkaard.

Perhaps in 2012, Barcelona will consider signing 24-year-old Mexican CB Hector Moreno with first-year manager Tito Vilanova.

I think all FC Barcelona fans just want the club to finally commit to find a true centre-back for the future.

Vamos!

 

Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona on Bleacher Report.

 

Don't forget to check out my other columns:

Evaluating FC Barcelona's Future Post-Clasico

FC Barcelona: Should Carles Puyol Retire?

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