FC Barcelona have had a very shaky defense these past few years. Injuries, an aging legend in Carles Puyol and the Eric Abidal situation have made the back line unstable. Javier Mascherano, Alex Song and even Sergio Busquets have played centre-back, but they still are not true CBs, and this makeshift defense has not been solid too many times.
The signing of Jordi Alba has been a great investment for the future of the Barça back line. Youngster Martin Montoya is the future replacement for Dani Alves whenever the Brazilian either leaves or is transferred out.
One question that has been buzzing for Culés for a while has been, who will replace Carles Puyol when he retires? Puyol recently signed a contract extension with the Catalan giants until 2016. But at 35, it's obvious to say that Carles' best days at CB are past him.
According to the reports, Barcelona’s Sporting Director Andoni Zubizarreta has made signing Hummels his top priority this summer. Multiple reports are also stating that Barcelona scouts have gone to Germany to watch Hummels.
Personally, I do believe the reports of the scouts following Hummels. And it's not just Barça scouts who are following him. I'm sure Manchester United and Manchester City are following the German CB as well.
Hummels re-signed with Dortmund last year, but Barça are more than capable of reaching a deal with the defending Bundesliga champions. A bid of €30 million for the German is possible.
And with an estimated €50 million transfer budget (h/t @barcastuff), FC Barcelona will have more than enough to purchase Hummels' services. If Barça sells David Villa and Ibrahim Afellay—both who are expected to be sold this summer—the Catalans may have close to €70 million to spend this summer.
Let's face facts: Barcelona could use Hummels' toughness—something this team has lacked on defense for a while. Puyol is still tough. But with age come injuries, and Carles is quite injury prone.
Hummels would help Barcelona defend set pieces, as well as corner kicks—two big areas of weakness in the Barça defense. And as we saw in the first leg of Dortmund's Champions League matchup against Shakhtar Donetsk, Hummels is excellent at heading the ball into the back of the net.
At 6'4", Hummels and his long legs are able to slow down speedy forwards like Cristiano Ronaldo, as seen in the picture below.
Hummels recently talked with German newspaper Blid (via faniq.com) and said he'd be open to a transfer in the future. "One day, I will say that I am keen on a transfer. To play football in a new country would be flattering. In Europe there are just about four to five clubs that would really interest me.”
Enter FC Barcelona.
With Borussia Dortmund far away from Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga standings, as well as Pep Guardiola heading to Bayern next season, Hummels may realize—if he hasn't already—that winning in Germany will be tougher than ever for the foreseeable future.
If Robert Lewandowski is sold to either Manchester United or Bayern Munich as reports (via Mirror.uk) have suggested, Hummels may decide to leave a Dortmund team who's sold another star player—Shinji Kagawa and Nuri Sahin in the past.
Why Hummels to Barça is the worst-best thing for Barça
Signing Mats Hummels would be a terrific signing. In July of last year, I wrote an article suggesting why Tito Vilanova and Barça should have pursued Hummels over Thiago Silva. Hummels proved his merit at Euro 2012 and was, in my opinion, the best option for Barcelona.
With Hummels signing his extension with Dortmund, he will cost Barcelona much more than it would have cost them last year. Hummels will now cost the Catalan close to, if not over, €30 million. If Sandro Rosell decides to make a move for Neymar this summer instead of 2014 when the Brazilian is expected to leave Santos, Hummels will not be coming to the Camp Nou.
While a Hummels signing would be arguably the most important and needed signing the club could make, there are negatives to signing Hummels.
First off, spending €30 million on any player is still a lot. Yes, Hummels would be a good investment. But he may become the only summer signing, unless Sandro Rosell decides to spend the entire €50 million transfer budget Barça will have.
If Barcelona decided they need to replace Victor Valdes this summer, Hummels may not be signed as well, as quite a bit of Barça's money would have to go to the transfer fee of Valdes' replacement.
One way Barcelona could obtain more money for Hummels and other players would be to sell either the on-loan Isaac Cuenca or Ibrahim Afellay—or both players.
But a few questions Barcelona fans must consider are: What about Marc Bartra or Marc Muniesa? What happens to them if Hummels comes to Barcelona?
Do Bartra and Muniesa continue to stay on the bench? When will their time come?
Muniesa has been injured for most of the season and will stay with the B squad for the remainder of the year.
Bartra has without question earned his spot on the first team. With solid performances when in action, including against Celtic in Champions League action, Bartra has become the new hope for the Barcelona back line as I mentioned in an article dedicated to Bartra a few months ago.
If Hummels comes to Barça, what kind of message does that send to Muniesa, and especially to Bartra, who was voted Liga Adelante Best Defender in 2011-12? Does the potential signing of Hummels say to Bartra and Muniesa that the club does not have confidence in either of them?
I understand this is a business decision, and players should never take it personally. But let's be honest, FC Barcelona are not a typical "business". The players who come from La Masia—like Bartra and Muniesa—are not just players, they are family. Barça business for Masia-bred players is a family decision. If Hummels is signed in the summer, Bartra and Muniesa could take it personally as a message of no confidence in their abilities from club officials.
Personally, I think Bartra has earned a fair shot at being Puyol's future replacement, and Tito should put him in games more often. But then again, it's tough to pass up on one of the best CBs in the world in Hummels.
We'll see what happens this summer.
The only thing I want to see is an improvement on defense. Period.
I'm conflicted, as I'm sure many Culés are with the idea of Hummels to Barça.
Personally, I wouldn't be opposed to seeing Hummels signed by Barcelona this summer. But I could see Hummels' signing as being unfair to—and a potential message of no confidence in—Muniesa and especially Bartra.
That's why FC Barcelona signing Mats Hummels this summer could be the worst-best thing to happen to the team.
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona