Barcelona could reportedly move for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan in the January transfer window after losing Rafinha to a long-term injury on Wednesday.
Rafinha was stretchered off during Barca's 1-1 draw with Roma in the Champions League with an anterior cruciate ligament injury and will be out of action for at least six months, according to reports in Spain, via ESPN FC.
As a result, the Catalans have now been linked with a move for Gundogan to add depth to their injury-hit squad, with Barcelona sporting director Robert Fernandez having previously suggested they were looking to strengthen in the new year anyway, per Toni Juanmarti of Spanish outlet Sport.
The Camp Nou club's FIFA transfer ban lifts in January, allowing summer purchases Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan to be available for selection.
However, even their availability may not be enough to provide the requisite depth in the squad, with Barcelona expected to compete for trophies both domestically and in Europe.
Thus Gundogan—a previous target of Barcelona's in the summer, per Marca—could be pursued.
While the 24-year-old German is not a direct replacement positionally for winger Rafinha, he would certainly bring solidity to the midfield as well as the necessary attacking prowess required at Barca.
Brazil international Rafinha, 22, had begun the season with a more prominent role in Luis Enrique's setup than previously after the sale of Pedro to Chelsea—a decision Barca now no doubt regret, per Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe:
The addition of Gundogan and the availability of Vidal and Turan would give Enrique enough options in the midfield to cover for the loss of Rafinha in the second half of the season.
However, with the Dortmund man having recently extended his contract at Signal Iduna Park until 2017, the Bundesliga club will demand a sizable transfer fee for Gundogan.
He has played a key role for Thomas Tuchel's side in their perfect start to the new league season and is proving once more—following his return to form after a long-term injury—that he is one of the best central midfielders around.
Even without the imminent long-term absence of Rafinha, Gundogan would be a fine purchase for Barca, and thus it would be no surprise at all if they do move for the German international in January.