Barcelona sporting director Robert Fernandez reportedly scouted Hoffenheim centre-back Fabian Schar as he scored for Switzerland in their 2-1 defeat of Andorra on Monday.
According to Mundo Deportivo (via Tuttomercatoweb's Andrea Losapio), Barca have been tracking the 24-year-old for some time, since he was at FC Basel before his 2015 move to Hoffenheim.
The centre-back situation at Barca is somewhat unclear despite the summer addition of highly rated Frenchman Samuel Umtiti.
Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano are a reliable starting pair in the middle of manager Luis Enrique's back line, but, beyond the 22-year-old Umtiti, Jeremy Mathieu is the only other real cover.
Like Mascherano, Mathieu is 32—and will be 33 later this month. Unlike the Argentinian, though, the Frenchman has never truly proved to be of Barcelona quality.
Mathieu started alongside Pique in Barca's recent 4-3 defeat to Celta Vigo, scoring an own goal to put the Sky Blues 3-0 ahead—not his first for the Blaugrana, per Opta:
3 - Jérémy Mathieu has scored more own goals than any other player since he joined Barcelona in 2014/15 (all competitions). Misfortune.2016-10-2 19:44:09
Given that Barcelona are a side annually expected to compete for major honours on multiple fronts, they need better quality cover at centre-back.
Schar could be an ideal signing. At 24 years old, he is only in the early stage of his career and still has much time to improve.
He is excellent with the ball at his feet—a prized asset among defenders at the Camp Nou—and is more than able defensively.
Playing with the likes of Pique and Mascherano, he could develop into a top-quality centre-back, and his excellent performances at Euro 2016 with Switzerland prove he already has what it takes to perform on the biggest stage, per WhoScored.com (via Tom Doyle in the Evening Standard).
Meanwhile, Schar was reportedly not the only Swiss player Barca had their eye on against Andorra, with Fernandez and scout Urbano Ortega having cast their eye over right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner also.
The 32-year-old Juventus player has lost his place to former Barca star Dani Alves following the Brazilian's summer move to Turin, and Barca are looking at Lichtsteiner as a potential back-up full-back, per Ivan San Antonio of Sport.
Sergi Roberto has done an excellent job out of position at right-back this season, but he is now injured and Enrique no longer trusts Aleix Vidal in the position, per Mundo Deportivo (via AS).
According to San Antonio, Valencia's Joao Cancelo is Barca's main right-back target, but Lichtsteiner could be another option as he would be open to a move to the Camp Nou and is out of contract with Juve at the end of the season.