Aymeric Laporte is a young talent, but one who won't come cheap for Barca.
French U21 international Laporte has repaid manager Ernesto Valverde's faith in giving him a regular starting berth by producing a string of top-level performances.
Performances that have not gone unnoticed by a host of admirers.
Arsenal and Barcelona target Aymeric Laporte has signed a new Athletic Bilbao contract with a massive £30m release clause— Adefala O O (@Adefala_says) December 23, 2013
According to El Correo (h/t Talksport), both Arsenal and Barcelona have been keeping tabs on the player, and despite only recently signing a new contract at Los Leones with a £30 million release clause, neither club will balk at the price tag.
Barca especially are having a torrid time in central defence with another youngster, Marc Bartra, the only defender showing anything like the form we have come to expect from the Blaugrana.
Whilst Tata Martino may favour experience over youth, both Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano haven't exactly covered themselves in glory this season.
The first half hour against Getafe especially brought Barca's defensive shortcomings into sharp focus.
Laporte, a natural left-footer, would complement a confident Bartra perfectly. As Sir Matt Busby once remarked, "if they're good enough, they're old enough."
The question is, would Tata be brave enough to make such a bold statement?
In order to fit the defensive prototype at Camp Nou, you need to be able to pass the ball, and pass it well. Sounds simple? Try telling that to Barca's eighth most expensive signing in their history, Dmytro Chygrynskiy.
Fortunately Barca would have no such problem with Laporte. His passing is simple and effective, and never overcomplicated.
His reputation is further enhanced by his excellence in the tackle. Food and drink for every defender, you might argue, but an art form that seems to have all but disappeared from the modern game.
As with Pique and Bartra, Laporte is very much the modern central defender and likes to get forward when given the opportunity.
Needless indiscipline has seen the player in the referee's book three times this campaign, and his concentration levels have let him down on occasion.
It should of course be borne in mind that the youngster is still not out of his teens.
Further evidence of that exuberance of youth can be seen when marauding forward, the player perhaps holding onto the ball for too long when a team-mate is better placed.
Where Does He Fit In?
Quite simply, exactly where Mascherano is currently plying his trade. A natural left-footer, Laporte is a much more sensible fit in the position than the Argentine.
At a towering 6'2", his height advantage and propensity for winning the high ball are just what the doctor ordered.
Already one of Valverde's trusted generals, the youngster has played almost every minute of every La Liga game this season, and he has not disappointed.