Manu Fernandez/Associated Press
Barcelona have long had a problem in the centre-back position, and they still do, but it has changed in nature considerably.
Previously, they had a string of defenders who weren't good enough, from the likes of Dmytro Chygrynskiy to Alex Song recycled from defensive midfield.
Now they have a partnership that has led them to glory and doesn't look like being displaced any time soon, in Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano.
That makes things uncomfortable for Jeremy Mathieu, Thomas Veramelen and Marc Bartra. There is a three-way battle to be the first reserve to the current first-choice pair at the moment.
Mathieu and Vermaelen are winning, based on the opportunities they get and the size of the games Luis Enrique picks them for, in contrast to Bartra.
Both Mathieu and Vermaelen are experienced, at 32 and 30 respectively, with the latter previously captaining both Ajax and Arsenal.
Mathieu has played 22 times this season, and his appearances have been split between centre-back and left-back, with this added versatility another tick in his plus column for the coach.
However, with the news Adriano will take up the option to extend his Barcelona deal by one year, per Sport, being able to play at left-back isn’t as big an advantage as it might have been for the Frenchman.
Also according to the Barcelona-based newspaper, Bartra has decided to leave the club. Lluis Miguelsanz writes:
The player, who has fallen out of Luis Enrique's plans, has decided to end his era as a Barcelona player and will move away in the summer. His agents met with the club to discuss the situation - his lack of minutes. Both sides are sure the best option for the defender is not to put down his arms this season yet, because he could still be useful, but to look for an exit in June. Barcelona will listen to offers from €12million and retain a buy-back fee clause - this is not Bartra's moment, but nobody doubts his quality.
It is clear that Bartra loves the club, and he has stayed here until reaching 25 years old to try to make an impact, but it doesn’t seem to be coming.
It seems the only way for him to stay is by making a huge effort in the final months of the season, ending every training session with nothing left behind and capitalising on any opportunities that may come his way.
Miguelsanz says in Sport Barcelona’s priority is to sign a defender in the summer, so it could be two of these three losing their place and the third fighting with Pique, Mascherano and whoever they choose to bring in.