FC Barcelona: An Early Look at Targets for the January Transfer Window
Highly considered one of the world's greatest clubs, FC Barcelona has seen their share of issues in this early season and will look to fix their problems come January. A single move can change a lot from a lost season all the way to a treble.
No matter how great a team may be, there is always room for improvement. Barcelona has faced injuries constantly this season as well as a defensive strategy causing a struggle for goals.
Let's take a moment to look at some of the options that Barcelona have in the upcoming January transfer window to fix their problems.
Fernando Llorente, Athletic Bilbao, Striker, Age: 27
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With the majority of opposition Barcelona have been facing, many fans are calling for a tall and strong striker as a plan B. Fernando Llorente offers all the qualities Barcelona need to counter a parked bus of defenders.
Llorente is 6'5" and certainly strong. For all the crosses Daniel Alves puts in the box, a capable header could change the course of a game. Llorente is a known header of the ball, and his height gives him an advantage over most defenders.
The Basque striker has also been a part of the Spanish National Team, which plays an almost identical style to Barcelona. This will aid in his ability to fit into the team.
The chances of Barcelona actually getting Fernando Llorente are surprisingly high. The tall striker has seen the majority of the season on the bench due to a rough relationship with coach Marcelo Bielsa, according to Goal.com. However, according to Goal.com, Bilbao have shocked interested clubs by making known the player is "not for sale in January."
Edinson Cavani, Napoli, Striker, Age: 25
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Another way to beat a parked bus is with pure scoring ability. Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani possesses traits that would help Barcelona in securing more goals while taking the pressure off of Lionel Messi.
Cavani is out-and-out the best striker in Serie A. At 6'0", he has the ability to head the ball better than any current Barcelona player. His size gives him the ability to play in the air, while still being technically gifted to play in the Barcelona system.
With the repeated news from Goal.com of Radamel Falcao on his way to the EPL, Cavani is the closest player in terms of style that Barcelona can make a push for.
The age of Cavani is also a plus. Like Messi, Cavani is only 25. Were Barcelona to buy Cavani, the pair would make a power duo in front of goal for many years.
Napoli have not made a formal statement on their willingness to sell their star player, yet a player of Cavani's caliber would thrive at a bigger club with the talent surrounding him.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Age: 20
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One area that fans have now refused to overlook is that of a goalkeeper. Victor Valdez has been a staple in the Catalan club's squad for many years, yet he has consistently shown that he is less reliable than the rest of his teammates.
Enter Marc-Andre ter Stegen with 15 shutouts and only 24 goals allowed last season. At merely 20 years old, the German has already seen international play and continues to dominate the Bundesliga.
Ter Stegen has many gifts such as positioning and vision, yet his greatest attribute is his shot-stopping ability. With a no-nonsense style between the sticks, Ter Stegen possesses the very trait that has Valdez on the chopping block.
With clubs such as Liverpool hot in pursuit of Ter Stegen (according to Metro), it would not be a surprise for his club to cash in on the young keeper. Barcelona would be wise to purchase such a promising young keeper to give Valdez competition.
Mats Hummels, Borussia Dortmund, Defender, Age: 23
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By far, the weakest area in the Barcelona lineup is that of defense. An early injury to captain Carles Puyol has resulted in many makeshift defensive lines by coach Tito Vilanova. Alex Song was bought this past summer to be a backup, yet he has seen significant minutes full of incapability.
Javier Mascherano, a defensive midfielder turned center back, has been used often to cover in the back line. Although the Argentine had a terrific season last season, he has become a liability this season. Youngster Marc Bartra should eventually become a regular player, but his age has him getting only limited minutes.
Mats Hummels has quickly become one of the world's best center backs. This summer, talkSPORT reported he might have been on his way to Barcelona before signing a new 5-year contract with Borussia Dortmund, as reported by FOX Sports.
However, recent reports from Sky Sports have indicated the German international has yet to rule out a move if the right offer comes along.
Overall, Hummels is the answer to the Barcelona back line. He is strong and fearless and can take the ball forward like Carles Puyol. If Barcelona can pull off this move, it would surely see their defensive troubles subside.
Dedé, Vasco Da Gama, Defender, Age: 24
Here are a few convincing tackles from the Brazilian star.
Anderson Vital da Silva, better known as Dedé, is a Brazilian center back currently playing for Vasco da Gama. With all the hype of Neymar in the Brazilian league, it is no wonder this gem has gone arguably unnoticed.
Dedé stands at nearly 6'4" and is impeccable on the ball. He is touted as the best defender in the Brazilian league and recently won the award of best right center back in the Brazilian league.
The young Brazilian has appeared in very few international games, yet he looks to be the future of the Brazil defense. His play style resembles that of Carles Puyol as he uses his strength and tackling ability to clean up in front of goal.
The best quality possessed by Dedé is his calmness. Though very young and talented, Dedé never appears to lose focus during a match, which the Barcelona defense is all too guilty of.
As big clubs begin to look into the future Brazil star (according to Caughtoffside.com), Barcelona would be wise to put in an offer. Dedé would not cost nearly as much as top defenders currently in Europe. If Mats Hummels decides to remain in Germany, Dedé is the next best option.
Neymar, Santos, Striker, Age: 20
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Quite easily the biggest name in transfer rumors, Neymar may see his move to Barcelona as early as January. Among reports from Sky Sports that Neymar is happy at Santos for now, the prolific striker has made it known that he is keen on a move to Europe at some point, according to Goal.com.
Neymar possesses both speed and power. As luck would have it, these are exactly what Barcelona need. Neymar's ability to blast goals from outside the box is desperately needed as Barcelona looked stifled most games as they pass around the crowded parked bus.
Neymar also has speed and dribbling ability matching that of Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo. This would add yet another dynamic to the Barcelona attack. Neymar could be targeted on a counter attack as well as get into the box like Barcelona loves to do.
There is no denying Neymar's pure ability, and any team will be lucky to purchase the Brazilian star. Neymar has recently matured this season, possibly due to his becoming a father. His passing has also improved drastically. Both are things that European clubs wanted to see before spending the money on the young prospect.
There are arguments that Neymar cannot fit in the Barcelona system. However, with his ability and drive, he will fit in well. His game resembles that of David Villa, who currently works wonders in the Barcelona system. Paired with Lionel Messi, Neymar would make Barcelona the most dominant force football has ever seen.
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One thing is for certain: Barcelona have issues to address. Thus far, the club has gotten off to the best-ever start to a La Liga season. Tito Vilanova continues to impress after taking over for Pep Guardiola.
Despite the current success, the once-unstoppable Barcelona look human for the first time in nearly five years. The club may opt to fix the issues this summer, but for the team to make a deep run in the Champions League, a move will likely have to be made in January.
As far as defense goes, Marc Bartra is ready to step in, although Barcelona are reluctant to put so much pressure on untested shoulders.
The offense is another issue. Although Barcelona continue to dominate games, they have trouble finding the back of the net through the parked bus defenses.
The current Blaugrana squad is as good as they come, but if Barcelona want to be clear Champions League and La Liga favorites, they will have to secure the back line and find more ways to score goals.
Now I turn it over to you, the readers. Can Barcelona meet their goals without a move in January or is a move necessary? If so, whom should the club buy?