5 Defenders That Barcelona Could Realistically Sign This Summer
Barcelona have already done more transfer business this close season than in most of the last few windows, despite the fact that this particular summer window doesn't actually open until July 1.
The signings of Ivan Rakitic and two high-quality goalkeepers in Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo has everyone at Camp Nou excited. As does the return of loanees Rafinha Alcantara and Gerard Deulofeu.
Rumours abound of other comings and goings in midfield and up front, but there is still the glaring omission of a quality central defender in the line-up.
It has been five long years since Pep Guardiola signed Dmytro Chygrynskiy for €25 million from Shaktar Donetsk only to send him packing back to the Ukraine at a €10 million loss after one season.
Since then, not one imposing centre-half has been secured. Quite unbelievable given Barca's well-documented struggles with the high ball and at the back generally.
It is imperative that there is a change in buying policy with immediate effect and a defensive rock is next in through the revolving door.
The likes of Porto's Eliaquim Mangala have been taken out of Barca's price range so let's take a look at five realistic targets who could make the switch to Catalonia.
Aymen Abdennour won't be a name that is recognised by many, although Barca have been keeping tabs on the powerful defender for a while now.
Back in March of 2013, Giscard Gourizro of Sky Sports reported that the Catalans had already been on several scouting missions and the player himself noted:
Barcelona are a top team, but the invitation does not mean that I will sign for them.
It is no secret that I have been watched several times by them, but also by other big clubs.
I have always dreamt of playing for a big club and by the grace of God I will achieve that.
As it transpired the player stayed at Toulouse until January 2014 when he was loaned to AS Monaco for the remainder of the season with the option of a four-year permanent deal.
However, the French Ligue 1 club have yet to take up that option after the player only made six appearances in four months for them.
Liverpool's Daniel Agger is another who has been on the radar of the Blaugrana for some while.
The Denmark captain has fallen out of favour on Merseyside, making only 17 appearances in all competitions last season.
Metro reported that Barca could bid for him this summer and whilst his allegiance to the Merseysiders is clear, per LiverpoolFC.com, he could now consider that the time is right to move on and secure a starting berth elsewhere.
Tough and uncompromising as he showed in the friendly against England in March, he is precisely the sort of character required on the pitch and in the dressing room.
With Brendan Rodgers now well covered in the central defensive areas, the manager may sanction the move to allow incoming funds to be used for other potential acquisitions.
According to David Lee of Press Association Sport (h/t ITV.com), the player has become disenchanted with life in north London and now wants a move to a club that can offer him Champions League football.
Versatility, superb passing accuracy, per WhoScored.com, and a high level of competence in the role are what marks the 27-year-old out from his peers.
Jenny Leigh of Here is the City noted that during last season, Vertonghen's pass completion, aerial duel ability and potency in an attacking sense when required, were superior to that of previous target David Luiz.
Although it's highly unlikely that new Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino will let the player leave without a fight, invariably the will of the player to leave could swing the pendulum in Barca's favour.
With a purchase that would be at a significantly less financial cost than Luiz, Vertonghen's signature would also assuage the money men at the club.
If Barcelona want to secure Sevilla's Federico Fazio, then they need to move quickly.
The Andalusians are preparing to offer the centre-back an improved deal, according to talkSPORT, and also raise a buyout clause which remains at a ridiculous £8 million.
A great reader of the game, Fazio can be relied upon to snuff out a chance before a move has an opportunity to develop and aerially there aren't too many better as you might expect of someone who stands at 6' 4".
More than happy to face up to opponents in a one-on-one duel, too, the 27-year-old ticks all of the right boxes.
Fast approaching the form of his life, his capture will go to prove that you don't have to spend big to acquire quality.
Southampton's consummate centre-back Dejan Lovren has the appropriate skill set to complement Gerard Pique and delight the Catalan faithful.
Fantastic in the air, tough in the tackle, quick over the ground and with passing stats of 82 percent across the season, per WhoScored, there is barely a weakness to his game save for the odd disciplinary indiscretion.
Barcelona's pursuit, as detailed by Nick Lustig of the Daily Star, is significantly enhanced by the fact that the player has already requested a transfer from the south coast club.
Sportsmail Online can reveal that the central defender wrote an email to executive director Les Reed and chairman Ralph Krueger on May 30 with notice of his desire to leave St Mary's this summer.
In the email, the defender outlined his ambition to play Champions League football next season and wants to move this summer.