Barcelona Are Chasing the Wrong Players in the Transfer Window

Rik Sharma@@riksharma_Featured ColumnistJuly 22, 2014

Juan Cuadrado goes in on Neymar.
Juan Cuadrado goes in on Neymar.Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

Barcelona are closing in on Jeremy Mathieu and Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, according to Sport, and yet it's hard to shake the feeling they're aiming at the wrong targets for their requirements. 

Both of the above players are talented, but if director of football Andoni Zubizarreta seals their signings, then supporters will still feel the squad is not complete.

The three places on the pitch Barcelona need to reinforce are well-documentedcentre-back, right-back and central midfield.

With Dani Alves seemingly poised to stay at the club despite being linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, per Sport, a right-back might not even be necessary.

"I would like to complete the contract I have," said Alves.

"With regards [to new manager Luis Enrique], I need to talk with him. I really hope that we can work together. My wish is to see out the rest of my contract, but we will have to come to a mutual agreement."

Dani Alves may stay.
Dani Alves may stay.Andre Penner/Associated Press

Even if Alves still leaves the Camp Nou, then the man they are targeting to fill the gap is not up to scratch.

There is no doubting Cuadrado's immense talent as a footballer. He is a fantastic, flying winger.

Cuadrado recorded the most assists at the World Cup this summer, impressing for Colombia in his natural position.

But Barcelona want to buy him and convert him to a right-back, per Sport.

That would limit his strengths and put his weaknesses under the spotlight.

Doubtless, for the majority of the season, Cuadrado could pull it off. But when it really matters, he could be found wanting.

Alves has always been an attacking right-back, flying forward with glee, but when he's been criticised, it's for a lack of defensive diligence.

Signing an out-and-out right-winger to play in that position is a dangerous and potentially costly tactic.

The main area of concern for Barcelona supporters is the centre-back position.

Barcelona are short there after Carles Puyol was forced to retire because of his injuries.

Carles Puyol was forced to retire.
Carles Puyol was forced to retire.Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

They have Marc Bartra, Gerard Pique and Javier Mascheranoif they play him out of position.

All summer long, they have been searching for a centre-back, claiming that they are difficult to find these days.

Puyol, in a new position as an understudy to Zubizarreta, has even joined in with the excuses, telling FIFA (h/t Sport):

We have time to search for defenders, but half of Europe are looking so it's not easy. And less still for us, because of our style of play. To play for Barcelona you need quality, to be good with the ball, must be fast, and defend well high up the pitch, because when you look back and see so much space you can get dizzy.

While he is right that it is not easy to find defenders who suit Barcelona's style without being too swashbuckling, the club have had years to find defenders to fit.

Sport's Toni Juanmarti has compiled a list of other clubs who have signed defenders since Barcelona picked up Dmytro Chygrynskiy back in 2009. Perhaps his disastrous spell at the Camp Nou put Barcelona off signing centre-backs.

Juanmarti mentions the likes of Raphael Varane, Miranda, Diego Godin, Matija Nastasic, Jerome Boateng, Per Mertesacker, Kurt Zouma, Eliaquim Mangala and more as highly rated defenders who have all been signed by clubs since Barca last acted in the transfer market. 

He notes, "All of the biggest club sides in Europe have strengthened their backlines during the last five years. All expect Barca."

Mathieu is a centre-back, but at 30 years old and a recent convert from left-back, he is far from ideal.

While good with the ball and not bad defensively, he should be a squad player at Barcelona, not a first-choice new recruit.

Mathieu would be a good squad player for Barca.
Mathieu would be a good squad player for Barca.David Ramos/Getty Images

The final position Barcelona need to strengthen in is central midfield.

By signing a defender, Mascherano can be restored to his midfield position.

As we saw at the World Cup, that is no bad thing.

But Barcelona need someone in the midfield who is capable of providing attacking thrust while still being strong defensively.

Real Madrid picked up Toni Kroos from Bayern Munich, and he's actually more the sort of player Barcelona could do with given Madrid already have Sami Khedira.

Toni Kroos may be a better fit for Barca than Madrid.
Toni Kroos may be a better fit for Barca than Madrid.Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Ivan Rakitic is a fine player who is happy to put his fair share of work in, but he isn't the "middle man" in a three-man centre midfield; instead, he is the furthest forward.

We could see a double-pivot base of Sergio Busquets alongside Mascherano, which is fine for tougher games but lacks dynamism when trying to break down defences.

Given how strong they are offensively, this may not have too negative an impact, but then again, La Liga is a tight division at the top, and mistakes can and will be punished.


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