5 Defenders Barcelona Could Still Sign This Summer
Despite a much-publicized, summer-long effort to bolster their depth in central defense, it seems as though Barcelona will begin the 2013-14 campaign without a meaningful acquisition in the position.
And not only that, the reigning Primera Division champions have actually lost defenders since the end of last season, allowing youngsters Andreu Fontas and Marc Muniesa to join Celta Vigo and Stoke, respectively, and refusing to renew Eric Abidal’s contract. The 33-year-old subsequently joined Monaco and started for France against Belgium on Wednesday.
Now, Barcelona are thought to be listening to offers for Marc Bartra—a 22-year-old former Spain underage international who made 16 appearances in all competitions last term. The Independent has reported Tottenham Hotspur are interested, although the Catalans claim they will only let him leave if they manage to secure a high-profile signing.
So who might that signing be?
With barely two weeks remaining in the transfer market, they are running out of time. However, with the right bid, they could still bring in the sort of defender who could not only provide cover for the aging Carlos Puyol but could work his way into the starting XI in the immediate term as well.
The following five slides will reveal some options.
Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal
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Barcelona have been linked with Thomas Vermaelen since at least February, when Tom Hopkinson of the Mirror reported the Catalan giants were looking to the Belgium international to bolster their depth in defense.
Unveiled to much hoopla following his €10 million arrival at Emirates Stadium from Ajax in 2009, the 27-year-old has been plagued by injury and lapses in form the past two seasons and started eight matches fewer than Per Mertesacker last season.
If Barcelona were to make a meaningful bid for Vermaelen, Arsenal just might listen.
Mamadou Sakho, Paris Saint-Germain
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Mamadou Sakho, Paris Saint-Germain’s 6'2" defender and France international, has not surpassed 30 Ligue 1 appearances in a season since reaching the mark for a second consecutive time in 2010-11.
Captain Thiago Silva, Alex, Christophe Jallet and the recently signed Marquinhos are all ahead of him in the pecking order at PSG, but at just 23 years of age and with every physical attribute at his disposal, he has enormous upside.
Earlier this week, Football-Espana reported he could be off to Barcelona for around €15 million.
Daniel Agger, Liverpool
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As Dominic King of the Daily Mail reported this week, the 28-year-old’s agent has refused to rule out a move for his client, saying, “It would be up to the clubs to agree a fee for his transfer.”
Agger has a reputation for good positioning and dominance in the air—attributes that would make him an asset at Camp Nou.
Inigo Martinez, Real Sociedad
While the likes of Isco, Alvaro Morata, Thiago Alcantara and Asier Illarramendi garnered most of the headlines during Spain’s run to the UEFA U-21 Championship earlier this summer, Inigo Martinez quietly went about his work in the centre of defense—picking up right where he left off at the end of the season with Real Sociedad.
In tandem with the excellent Mikel Gonzalez (perhaps another transfer option for Barcelona), the 22-year-old helped keep things tidy in front of veteran goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and was a major factor in the San Sebastian side’s qualification for the Champions League.
Barcelona have never made an official approach for Martinez, but of all their options, he might be the one that makes the most sense.
David Luiz, Chelsea
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Barcelona were laughed out of town when they enquired after Vincent Kompany; they were rejected out of hand when they made an approach for Thiago Silva.
David Luiz was their third option, and while Jose Mourinho initially told the Catalans they were “wasting their time” in the pursuit of the Brazil international, there is still a chance he could sanction the sale of the 26-year-old if the price is right, according to Goal.
That John Terry is a Mourinho favourite is news to nobody, and Gary Cahill might end up having the inside track on the other central defensive spot in Mourinho’s Chelsea return, leaving David Luiz on the bench more often than he’d prefer.