Barcelona have reportedly made contact with Toulouse centre-back Issa Diop about a potential future transfer.
According to Lluis Miguelsanz of Sport, the Blaugrana reached out to the youngster to find out what his plans are for the future.
"The Blaugrana have been following him for several years and have been keeping a close eye on his progression in Ligue 1," noted Miguelsanz of Sport. "...He is one of the young French defenders Barca have been monitoring. The club are making plans in case they have to sign a fourth—or even a third—centre-back."
It's noted that Barcelona have concerns about the future of Samuel Umtiti as things stand; it was reported by Toni Frieros of Sport that contract talks have stalled between the Catalan club and their star defender.
In addition to Diop, Miguelsanz said Schalke's Thilo Kehler and RB Leipzig youngster Dayot Upamecano are also said to be on their agenda.
Gerard Pique and Umtiti have forged a tremendous partnership in front of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, helping Barcelona race away at the top of La Liga this season. They have the best defensive record in the division heading into Week 30, with just 13 goals conceded in 29 games.
Goal's Ben Hayward suggested that this defensive setup is as good as any Camp Nou has ever seen:
Still, behind Pique and Umtiti, convincing cover is in short supply. Javier Mascherano has departed, Thomas Vermaelen is renowned for being injury prone and Yerry Mina has struggled to make an impact since arriving in the January transfer window.
The pursuit of someone like Diop, regardless of whether Umtiti stays or not, would make sense in the summer as a result.
Here's a look at why the 21-year-old is rated so highly:
The young Frenchman has already established himself as a regular in the Toulouse side, starting 26 games this season in Ligue 1.
As noted by journalist Oluwashina Okeleji, despite playing youth football for France, there appears to be a battle to secure Diop's allegiances when it comes to senior international football:
Oluwashina Okeleji @oluwashina
Born in France✅ Represented France at youth level✅ Eligible for both #Morocco (mother) and #Senegal (father)🤔 Toulouse’s Issa Diop, 21, has caught the eyes of Morocco boss Herve Renard and Senegal coach Aliou Cisse is a big fan. Says he’ll make a decision after the World Cup. https://t.co/h1FWl9Fku9
While his work on the ball can be a little erratic—something that may be a concern given the style of football Barcelona typically play—Diop is a tremendous natural defender. The centre-back is physically dominant and alert to danger in the defensive third.
Although he wouldn't be guaranteed a regular starting spot at Barcelona if he was to move, he could be a tremendous option for the team in the long-term. However, if he wants to continue playing regular football, a switch to Catalonia may not be ideal at this time.