Which Barcelona Legend Would Fans Like to Reboot to Boost Current Team?

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2017

Spain's FC Barcelona Carles Puyol (L), Xavi (C) and Dani Alves (R) take part in a training in Yoikohama, suburban Tokyo, on December 12, 2011. FC Barcelona will play against Asian champion Qatar's Al-Ssad at the semi-final of the FIFA Club World Cup here on December 14.    AFP PHOTO/Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
TORU YAMANAKA/Getty Images

Bringing back players who have already enjoyed a successful spell at a club isn't always a recipe for enjoyment or further success, especially if they have somewhat aged in the meantime, but sometimes fans would love to plug a legend of the past back into the current-day lineup, knowing they'd be perfect.

Barcelona supporters would certainly have their share to pick from if it were to happen; the club have been one of the best to watch and most silverware-laden sides in Europe over the past decade or two. Top-class players have been promoted from the academy, brought in from afar and nurtured into some of the greatest in their positions.

But which of them would improve Barcelona's modern side the most?

Which areas of the team give most cause for concern as Luis Enrique's side fight for honours in La Liga, the UEFA Champions League and the Copa del Rey?

We asked those who should know best, and who ultimately matter most: the fans of the club. They have voted in their thousands and chosen the past legend they'd love to reboot, placing them right in the heart of the team in 2016/17.

Areas of concern

How to pick, then, from all of Barcelona's amazing former stars. Who should be considered most heavily? The starting point was easy: If we're looking to solve a problem with Lucho's XI, we're not looking at the front line. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar; no matter who you pick from the past, there's not going to be a huge upgrade, if any at all, so it's further back we must look.

In midfield, Barcelona lack either a controlling presence to aid them dominating matches as they did previously or a physical, marauding talent who can break up play but also aid in transitions. In looking for a central midfielder, though, there's only one possible consideration when it comes to legends: Xavi Hernandez.

Barcelona's midfielder Xavi Hernandez gestures during the Spanish King's Cup (Copa del Rey) football match Barcelona FC vs Athletic Bilbao on December 21, 2010 at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona.    AFP PHOTO/ JOSEP LAGO (Photo credit should read JOSEP
JOSEP LAGO/Getty Images

The spine of the team has shifted gradually over the last few years and that has perhaps meant the lack of a leader from the back and a lack of aerial presence, so Carles Puyol got the nod for centre-back, while right-back has clearly been a worry this year.

Poor form and a long-term injury has wrecked Aleix Vidal's season, while Sergi Roberto has been hit-or-miss. That means a recently departed former favourite comes back into the equation in Dani Alves.

Alternatives

While the majority of votes went to the three chosen legends, around 200 of the 6,600 voters opted for alternate names—mostly attacking options. Ronaldinho and Michael Laudrup were mentioned more than once, while as always there were a few rank outsiders also considered by some.

Perhaps the most interesting alternative was Pedro, excelling for Chelsea this season in a 3-4-3 system.

The Premier League team's formation is not set out the same way as Luis Enrique's version of 3-4-3 seen recently, but the former wide forward could certainly contribute somewhere along the line.

Overall, though, the big split was between the two La Masia-produced stars, Xavi and Puyol, with the defender coming out on top.

Carles Puyol

Floppy haired, aggressive, constantly barking at the referee, the opposition or his own team-mates, Puyol was the leader at the back who served both Barcelona and Spain in exceptional style, winning six La Liga titles, three Champions Leagues, Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 20:  Carles Puyol of Barcelona holds up the winners trophy after beating Espanyol 3-0 (1-0) in the Supercup at the Camp Nou stadium August 20, 2006 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Not a bad haul, considering the centre-back stood only 5'10" tall and was almost sold at least twice as a young player.

More important than physical stature, though, was Puyol's unrelenting commitment to the cause, his iron will to win and to ensure that no opponent had an easy route to goal; he was utterly determined, had a tremendous leap to compete aerially and had no fear of making a rugged challenge bordering on the illegal when the situation called for it.

And he was the team's communicator. Nobody could leave their position, nobody could shirk duty tracking back, nobody was allowed to slacken off when Puyol was in the side.

It's undeniable that Barcelona have missed out on his charismatic style, even with Javier Mascherano in the side as the unstoppable force of nature at the back; the Argentinian is a leader in his own way, without question, but there was a natural character about Puyol that was hard to miss, whether he was on your team or opposing it.

But is he really the right choice?

2 against, 1 for

From all the players available, Barcelona would fill just the one void with Puyol's addition right now: the omnipresent voice at the back. Yes, he'd add an aerial security, a threat in attacking set-piece situations, and he had speed across the ground in his elite days, but the case is there to be made that this is far from the biggest problem posed to the Blaugrana.

It could be argued Samuel Umtiti has solved at least two of the above issues—speed and aerial dominance—and the French youngster certainly has the aura that could see him develop as the team's organiser-in-chief, while goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen also contributes there far more than Claudio Bravo or Victor Valdes did.

Instead, Barcelona have lost (matches, goals or points) recently because of an over-reliance on getting the ball to the frontmen and letting the MSN attack do their thing.

If the service to the front trio isn't there, it's near impossible for Lucho's side to control a game, keep opponents on the back foot and dictate the tempo and the direction of play. Lots of that stems from midfield and the altered expectation on them; no longer the team that recycles continuously, awaits their chance and then zips into action. Instead, the midfield is simply a conduit to get the ball forward.

However, the most surprising outcome from the vote was that Dani Alves came in third.

PAMPLONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 26: Dani Alves of FC Barcelona looks on during the La Liga match between CA Osasuna and FC Barcelona at Estadio Reyno de Navarra on August 26, 2012 in Pamplona, Spain. FC Barcelona won 1-2.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Right-back has been a contentious position since the Brazilian departed for Juventus and even more so now with the switch to 3-4-3; a combination of Rafinha and Sergi Roberto dovetailing the channel is getting the job done, but primetime Alves would simply destroy teams from an even more advanced position, with extra defensive cover behind, and link up well with the frontmen as he did for years.

In addition, being capable of occupying the entire flank himself, he'd allow the team to shift the counter-balance from right to left—this season Neymar has been doing the leg-work on the left more than is ideal, and having an extra body in midfield who can do that shift for him would help Barcelona get back on the front foot more often.

It won't be Luis Enrique's problem next season, as he's departing in the summer, but the yet-to-be-announced incoming boss will surely have earmarked the right side of the team—in a back four or a 3-4-3—as priority No. 1 to improve upon...and a peak Dani Alves will be the blueprint for whoever is signed next.

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