Barcelona Transfer News: Elite Defenders Shortlisted by Luis Enrique

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2014

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 06: Mateo Pablo Musacchio of Villarreal CF wins the header against Jonathan Viera of Rayo Vallecano de Madrid during the La Liga match between Rayo Vallecano de Madrid and Villarreal CF at Estadio de Vallecas on January 6, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Luis Enrique inherited one of the world's finest attacking line-ups when he took over at Barcelona, but the defence at Camp Nou is a somewhat more contentious topic.

A deal for Jeremy Mathieu has gone some way toward developing the club's depth at the back, but more additions will be required if the club are to right the wrongs of their last campaign.

Enrique is thought to be lining up a bevy of defensive figures, some of whom promise to bring a great deal more stability to the Catalan side than others.

 

Mateo Musacchio

VALENCIA, VALENCIA - APRIL 10: Juan Mata (R) of Valencia duels for the ball with Mateo Musacchio of Villarreal during the La Liga match between Valencia and Villarreal at Estadio Mestalla on April 10, 2011 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Barca face a fight to land Villarreal star Mateo Musacchio this summer after it came to light that Tottenham are close to a deal.

Mauricio Pochettino will supposedly use his Argentinian links to convince the centre-back of a north London switch, per the Mirror's Ed Malyon, with Spurs said to be willing to offer £16 million—£4 million shy of Villarreal's valuation.

Samuel Marsden of Spanish outlet SPORT hints at the shrewd manner of Pochettino's potential new signing:

New signing Mathieu recently incurred some ire after the Frenchman opened up about his smoking habits, per Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo (h/t Sportsmole's Sam McEvoy):

I don't smoke much but I do it when I want. I'm not a smoker who smokes a pack every day. I haven't smoked for a fortnight right now. What counts is what happens on the pitch. People will forget when they see me run.

Regardless of the impact it makes, that admission in itself may affect Enrique's choice when it comes to fielding the versatile defender, with centre-back acquisitions perhaps given a new sense of priority.

 

Thomas Vermaelen and Mats Hummels

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 13:  Ezequiel Lavezzi of Argentina controls the ball against Mats Hummels of Germany during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina at Maracana on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Ph
Martin Rose/Getty Images

According to the latest reports, Manchester United and Barcelona are supposedly locked in a two-way battle for the loyalties of Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen and Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels.

That's according to John Richardson of the Express, who claims that the Gunners' Belgian skipper could be available for £10 million, while Hummels will reportedly cost anywhere between £25 million and £30 million.

BRADFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11:  Thomas Vermaelen of Arsenal controls the ball as Nahki Wells of Bradford closes min during the Capital One Cup quarter final match between Bradford City and Arsenal at the Coral Windows Stadium, Valley Parade on December
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Fans at Camp Nou will be pleased to hear club president Josep Bartomeu talk so openly about the club's plans for further recruits this summer, per Goal.com's Alec Fenn"The transfer window isn't over yet, it ends in a month's time. I think we still have some things left to do this summer."

With Gerard Pique and Marc Bartra currently sitting as La Blaugrana's primary options in central defence, it's no surprise to see that strengthening the back line remains a priority for the club.

However, Norwegian pundit Jan Aage Fjortoft and Jamie Jackson of the Guardian have opposite stances on the availability of Hummels and Vermaelen:

United are in need of centre-back options themselves following Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand's exits to Inter and Queens Park Rangers, respectively.

Therefore, Barcelona may have some tough competition on their hands.