With just six defenders to cover four defensive positions, Barcelona have looked increasingly vulnerable in the first few months of the 2011-12 season. Injuries to both Carles Puyol and Gerard Piqué have rendered the core of the defense extremely vulnerable.
Seeing defensive midfielders Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano start together as makeshift central defenders has become a common but unnerving sight for Barcelona fans. Busquets, especially, is simply not suited for a role as a center-back. Mascherano can perform the no-nonsense tackling that is needed as a last man, but he lacks the discipline and the positional sense to play this role week in and week out.
To stay competitive until the end of this season, Barcelona must sign defensive reinforcements to plug the hole in central defense.
However, they cannot just sign anyone. As the failed signings of Dmitryo Chigrinskyi and Martin Caceres showed, Barcelona need some very particular skills in a center-back because of their high defensive line. They are:
- Above average ball control
- Ability to pick a pass from within the defense
- Excellent reading of the game
- Pace in order to cover space left behind in defense
Let us look at a few players who tick the above bullet points.