Injuries May See Barcelona Make Transfer Moves in January, Says Ernesto Valverde

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2017

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 02:  Samuel Umtiti of Barcelona in action during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Celta de Vigo at Camp Nou on December 2, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Barcelona are considering signing a centre-back in January amid injuries to Samuel Umtiti and Javier Mascherano, according to manager Ernesto Valverde. 

Per Marca's Xavi Hernandez, he said:

"We have time to evaluate such a signing. In theory, we are happy with the centre-backs we have, but we'll see.

"You might consider [signing a centre-back] when there are injuries. We know that the injury to Samuel is a lengthy one and we hope he recovers well.

"From [Sergio] Busquets to Lucas Digne there are other solutions we'll have to look at."

A hamstring injury will keep Umtiti out for around eight weeks after he limped out of Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo, while a similar issue for Mascherano has seen him miss the Catalan giants' last five matches in all competitions.

Umtiti has been superb for Barcelona and will be sorely missed, per football journalists Rik Sharma and Sid Lowe:

WhoScored.com further illustrated Umtiti's importance to the side:

Without Umtiti and Mascherano, Barca are left with only Gerard Pique and Thomas Vermaelen as their recognised centre-back options.

The latter's fitness has been a real issue since he joined the club in 2014, as evidenced by the fact he has made just 25 appearances for Barcelona in that time, and as a result it's perhaps of little surprise he's been unconvincing when he has played.

According to Sport's Lluis Miguelsanz, the Blaugrana had planned to wait until the summer to make defensive reinforcements, though it seems their injury problems are causing them to reconsider.

Valverde added: "We'll see if the two healthy centre-backs we have left will get injured too!"

The summer would be a better time for the club to make such a recruitment, but they do find themselves in a precarious position without either Umtiti or Mascherano.

Barca are eight points clear of Real Madrid in La Liga, but the former's chances of picking up three points in El Clasico on December 23 have taken a hit without their star defender, and such a win on the eve of the winter break could give Los Blancos the psychological boost they need to get back into the title race.

Much could depend on the recovery of their defenders, but the club are wise to at least be thinking about bringing in another body in January to keep their title push going.