5 Transfer Targets Who Fit Tata Martino's Barcelona Style
Tata Martino has got some thinking to do.
Barcelona's man in charge doesn't appear to have a settled side in his mind even at this stage of the season, his rotation policy perhaps masking certain deficiencies within the team.
As we approach the January transfer window, Martino will need to decide if and where he should strengthen his side.
A number of names have already been linked, but only a certain type of player will fulfil the criteria for what the manager is looking for.
Let's take a look at five players who would slot seamlessly into this Blaugrana XI.
A player bang in form, Aguero offers much as a striking threat. Whilst not a centre-forward in the traditional sense, his movement and goals-to-games ratio are second to none, and he has the luxury of having played extensively with Messi at international level.
Playing off of the shoulder of the last defender, Aguero would bring an entirely different perspective to that which Barca have presently.
His purchase in January should therefore seriously be considered to breathe some new life into the Barca front line.
Barcelona need to secure their goalkeeping options for next season quickly.
If you play in goal for Barcelona, you have to be as good with your feet as you are with your hands. Not only does Courtois fulfil both criteria with ease, but his commanding presence will also ensure the worries from high balls into the box are a thing of the past.
His experience of La Liga in an outstanding Atletico side will hold him in good stead for a move which he is understood to want, according to Metro.
The only stumbling block to a deal may be Chelsea's unwillingness to sell to a direct Champions League rival.
Tall, but technically gifted, it's fair to describe Martinez as an even stronger, more physical version of his countryman Radamel Falcao.
The Colombian was described by ex-Porto legend Paulo Futre, per talkSPORT, as:
Physically stronger than Falcao, they're different.
He's something of an old-fashioned central striker, he heads well, is very athletic, and reminds me of George Weah.
He could play in any of the three big leagues, Spain, Italy or England.
Whether Martino would indeed plump for a central striker in the Martinez mould will be answered soon enough. Did Barca have their fingers burned with the Zlatan Ibrahimovic experiment? Does a "target man" work?
Well yes, in Martino's style of play, it does. The long-ball game he is beginning to favour over tiki-taka will play to Martinez's strengths.
In holding the ball up to bring others into play, in winning the lion's share of high balls against defenders or in going it alone, Martinez will prosper.
A sound and essential purchase.
If there is one area of the pitch that Barca continue to struggle with, it's in central defence.
Gerard Pique is out of form, Javier Mascherano is out of his depth and Carles Puyol is out of the team at present.
Andre Villas-Boas recently told The Independent that the Belgian isn't too enamoured at having to fill in at left-back:
I have had lots of conversations with Jan regarding this situation. Unfortunately he has to sacrifice his position as centre-back for the team.
He is one of the greatest central defenders I have worked with. He knows that and he knows that position is waiting for him whenever we have options at left-back. He has my word.
He hasn't fallen in love (with playing at left-back). I know he doesn't like it.
It surely makes sense therefore for Martino and Barca to make their intentions clear for a player who has no discernible weakness to his game.
Barcelona have midfield creativity aplenty. Not many come close to the silky skills of Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.
Sergio Busquets provides the steel in a midfield trio that any team in world football would be proud of.
Inter Milan's Fredy Guarin could give the Blaugrana midfield an entirely different and less predictable focal point. A box-to-box midfielder in the mould of, say, Yaya Toure, his style is something Barca have missed since, well, Yaya Toure.
His unbelievable energy and passing accuracy help to make him a worthwhile presence in both an attacking and defensive sense, and it's a skill set that has apparently impressed Tata Martino.
The manager has personally requested that Sandro Rosell organise the transfer of the player, according to Ben Jefferson of the Daily Express.
Barca will have a fight on their hands, as the report also details a trio of English Premier League clubs vying for his signature.