Barcelona Transfer News: Examining Latest 2014 Summer Gossip

Stuart Newman@@StuNewmanSportFeatured ColumnistJuly 19, 2014

PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL - JUNE 18:  Daley Blind of Netherlands controls the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Australia and Netherlands at Estadio Beira-Rio on June 18, 2014 in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  (Photo by Vinicius Costa/Getty Images)
Vinicius Costa/Getty Images

After a season to forget in 2013/14, it’s hardly surprising that Barcelona have been busy in the summer transfer window.

With a whole host of stars putting pen to paper to join Luis Enrique’s revolution at the Nou Camp, the days of success look like returning sooner rather than later.

The signing of Luis Suarez means that Enrique is satisfied with the attacking trio of the Uruguayan, Lionel Messi and Neymar, and he will now turn his attention to the club’s back line.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JULY 18:  Head coach Luis Enrique of FC Barcelona looks on during a FC Barcelona training session on July 18, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Though Jordi Alba is widely regarded as the best left-back on the planet, it seems that he may have some competition for a place in the team next year, with two big-name full-backs reportedly in line for a move to Catalonia.

The first is Dutchman Daley Blind, who impressed so much with the Netherlands at the World Cup that he’s made his way onto Barcelona’s radar—per Mundo Deportivo, via Anthony Hay of the Daily Mail.

Hay reports that Enrique is keen on bringing Blind, who is valued at €22 million, to the Nou Camp for the upcoming campaign, with his versatility making the hefty price tag worthwhile.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 09:  Daley Blind of Ajax in action during the Eredivisie match between Ajax Amsterdam and SC Cambuur Leeuwarden at Amsterdam Arena on March 9, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

The 24-year-old is somewhat of a utility man, being able to play anywhere across defence and in midfield, but the way that he performed at left-back in Brazil means that his natural position may well have been found.

The statistics don’t lie, and Blind’s record at the World Cup with the Netherlands rather speaks for itself—per OptaJohan:

However, Barcelona will have competition for Blind’s signature according to Hay, with Manchester United also reportedly chasing the Ajax star.

Signing for United would mean being reunited with national manager Louis van Gaal for Blind, and it’s clear that the Red Devils require his services far more than Barcelona do.

With Alba proving a star at left-back and Barcelona harbouring a wealth of talent in defensive midfield, where exactly Blind will fit in at the Nou Camp is difficult to envisage, and he could have to settle for a life of playing out of position at centre-back if he makes the switch to Catalonia.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 27:  Daley Blind of Ajax in action during the Johan Cruyff Shield match between AZ Alkmaar and Ajax Amsterdam at the Amsterdam Arena on July 27, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Ajax manager Frank de Boer also revealed that prising the 24-year-old from the Amsterdam club’s grasp will be tough, as he doesn’t expect Blind to be leaving anytime soon—per AT5, via Sky Sports:

“Personally, I don’t think so,” De Boer said, when asked whether Blind will be moving this summer. “Everyone is obviously for sale, but we feel that those three players, the World Cup players (Blind, Jasper Cillessen and Joel Veltman), with a few guys in the current squad, should be the water carriers of this squad.”

It’ll be down to Enrique’s powers of negotiation to lure Blind to the Nou Camp; however, in the case of Jeremy Mathieu, it’s the other way around.

VALENCIA, SPAIN - APRIL 27:  Diego Costa of Club Atletico de Madrid competes for the ball Jeremy Mathieu of Valencia CF during the La Liga match between Valencia CF and Club Atletico de Madrid at Estadio Mestalla on April 27, 2014 in Valencia, Spain.  (Ph
David Ramos/Getty Images

The Valencia left-back has reportedly been pleading with the club to let him join Barcelona, who recently tabled a bid for Mathieu’s services.

Though the initial approach was knocked back by Valencia, the Frenchman released a statement through Spanish news agency EFE asking for permission to leave—as Patrick Haond of Sky Sports reported:

I want to ask Valencia CF and its president, Amadeo Salvo, to please understand the situation and accept to negotiate my exit. I have the opportunity to play in the biggest club in the world and that's all I want. I'll never forget what Valencia has done for me, but it's time to move on in the best way possible.

Haond also reports that Valencia club president Amadeo Salvo has told Mathieu that he’ll be free to leave if Barcelona table €20 million—some €5 million more than their reported current bid.

VALENCIA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 22:  Jeremy Mathieu of Valencia celebrates after scoring during the La Liga match between Valencia CF and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Mestalla on December 22, 2013 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Ima
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Though the French defender was a mainstay of Valencia’s team last term, similarly to Blind, it’s difficult to see what he can add to Barcelona’s setup.

Another player with the ability to adapt around the pitch, Mathieu would likely be deployed at centre-back for Barcelona should he make the switch, but ESPN’s Jonathan Johnson believes that the club would be paying over the odds for an unproven player:

Had the move been for a free transfer or a significantly reduced fee, Johnson may well have been praising Mathieu for the way that he can conduct himself across the defence, but €20 million is indeed an astounding total.

Barcelona are in desperate need of a centre-back to shore up their defensive line ahead of the upcoming campaign, but a young, talented player with room for improvement and progression should be high on their list.

Though Blind does tick those boxes, not being a natural centre-back will work against him, and Enrique should go back to the drawing board and find a new target or two.