Barcelona have spent a good deal of the summer working to upgrade on the defensive end of the pitch. However, the club has now decided to stick with what it has, which could turn into a big mistake.
According to Jack De Menezes of The Independent, new manager Gerardo Martino claims he is happy with his current options, saying at a press conference:
We have Puyol, Pique, Mascherano, Bartra, even Adriano. If there's an injury, January transfer window is only a few months away.
Of course, this is a convenient change of plan after the original options failed to go through.
The club attempted to bring in David Luiz from Chelsea £35 million bid, although it was rejected when manager Jose Mourinho refused to give up the young player, according to Steve Brenner of The Guardian.
Instead of continuing to find players to provide more depth at centre-back, Martino has apparently abandoned the pursuit, saying his current squad is good enough.
On talent alone, it is hard to deny the manager's claim. When healthy, the combo of Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique is among the best in the world at both the club and international level for Spain. Unfortunately, this has not been seen much recently.
Puyol only played in 12 league matches last season while dealing with injuries, a problem that is certain to continue at 35 years old. According to Sports Illustrated, the defender considered retirement toward the end of last season due to these issues.
While Pique has done a better job at staying on the pitch, he has also dealt with various issues over the past two seasons to limit him to 44 league starts out of a possible 76.
This leaves Barcelona with a few players filling in who are out of their natural positions. Both Javier Mascherano and Adriano have moved between centre-back and defensive midfielder throughout their careers and do not truly have the starting experience necessary to excel in the spot.
Marc Bartra also represents a risk due to his lack of experience, even if he has shown potential over the years.
In reality, the La Liga champs did not have the best defense last season, especially in the middle. The 40 league goals allowed were too much for a squad of this quality, and things were much worse when Barcelona faced Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinals.
Many problems on the back line were masked by an elite offense, and the strategy to hold possession as much as possible. These issues must be improved in order to stay ahead of Real Madrid in the league and contend for a title in Europe.
Martino seems to think that the club will be able to solve the problem of lack of depth in January, but that could end up being too late if the need arises. In a competitive season, every single match matters as every point could lead to another title.
With just under two weeks remaining before the summer window closes, Barcelona should get back to searching for defensive players who can make an impact this season.
Otherwise, the inactivity could lead to a lot of regret down the line.
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