Barcelona's search for defensive improvements could finally see Daniel Agger head to the Camp Nou, with Spanish newspaper SPORT indicating Luis Enrique's side are in "advanced talks" to sign the Liverpool centre-back.
101 Great Goals translated the original article and reported a €15 million deal for the Danish centre-back, who is set to agree a five-year contract in Catalonia. The website also tweeted SPORT's headline:
Agger is said to have fancied a Camp Nou switch since 2012, per John Edwards of the Daily Mail, but circumstances now ensure the possibility is greater than ever. The 29-year-old has been unable to hold down a regular starting place since Brendan Rodgers took over Liverpool and recently aired his frustration at being unable to oust Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel.
"It is no secret that I had problems last season and I am considering things," Agger revealed to Danish newspaper BT, via Kent Hedlundh of Sky Sports. "How things turned out last season is not acceptable for me."
Is Daniel Agger the right man to tighten Barcelona's back line?
Barca will collectively feel the same about the 2013-14 campaign, which saw the team's hopes of gaining silverware dashed by a leaking defence. It wasn't the total number of goals conceded that harmed the Blaugrana's hopes—33 amounted to the second-best record in the league behind Atletico Madrid—it was the sloppy way in which the back four capitulated at key moments.
Few expected the side to draw 2-2 with Getafe at home, or to lose 1-0 away at Granada as the final La Liga schedule gained momentum.
Suddenly, Gerard Pique's lack of pace was exposed, Jordi Alba's positioning became questionable and Dani Alves' emphasis on bombing forward frustrated. Barca finished the season vulnerable from set pieces, as highlighted by Diego Godin's title-winning goal in front of the Camp Nou.
Agger is dominant in the air, but vitally, he offers leadership qualities. The wholehearted defender organises Denmark's defence in the captain's role and is often seen screaming at his fellow players at Anfield. He possesses a well-rounded game, battling spirit and the ability to play tidy football with possession at his feet; always a plus when Barca are interested.
His reported fee would be less questionable than the €20 million signing of Valencia defender Jeremy Mathieu, per David Kent of the Daily Mail.
Mathieu's willingness to play centrally or as a left-back is certainly useful to Barca, but his price tag appears extortionate considering his ability and age. He is the type of individual who is prone to switching off, meaning he could form a nervy partnership with Pique.
Tancredi Palmeri of beIN SPORTS indicated it may be a dud move:
Honestly I struggle to understand Barcelona's policy: 20m€ for a decent, just decent, defender going to be 31 years old like Mathieu— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) July 23, 2014
Colombian star Juan Cuadrado is also earmarked for a transfer to Barca or Manchester United, per Jamie Anderson of the Express, and he could challenge Alves' uncontested spot at right-back.
Fiorentina sporting director Prade recently confirmed "we haven’t received any official offer for him," but that the club "wouldn’t be able to say no" if a large fee was stumped up, per Gianluca Di Marzio of Sky Italia.
Enrique is looking to add a greater battling presence to Barca, highlighted by Mathieu's arrival and Ivan Rakitic's move from Sevilla. Links to both Agger and Cuadrado also follow this switch in emphasis, as when things got tough last season, FCB struggled to fight their way through.
It seems a potential move could suit Barca, Liverpool and Agger this summer, especially considering the Reds recently purchased Dejan Lovren from Southampton.
Brendan Rodgers will discard a fully committed servant if Agger departs, but Barca will be licking their lips at a centre-back who is among Europe's best when on form.