Barcelona reportedly want to sign a young centre-back on loan in the January transfer window, with Chelsea starlet Andreas Christensen and Cologne's Jorge Mere said to be on their list of targets.
Per Sport (h/t Football Espana), the Blaugrana are keen to add depth to their defensive options as a result of the injury issues suffered by Samuel Umtiti. The France international is said to possibly require surgery on his knee, which would leave him on the sidelines for a sizeable spell.
The club are reportedly looking to bring someone in on a temporary basis until the end of the campaign, with Christensen and Mere reportedly identified as possible options for the Catalan giants.
The BarcaTimes Twitter account relayed further details from the Sport report:
📰 [SPORT] | Barça has finally decided to sign a defender in January, to compenstae the loss of Umtit to injury 🔶 The required profile is a young defender who may be on loan for six months 🔷 Christensen (Chelsea) and Jorge Mere (Cologne) are the 2 defenders Barça are studying https://t.co/bODtLLK76T
Football Espana added that Ajax sensation Matthijs de Ligt is one of their priority targets, although Barca are aware of just how difficult it would be to get a deal done in the January transfer window.
If Umtiti did have to endure some time on the treatment table, it would leave the Blaugrana with just three fit centre-backs in the form of Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet and Thomas Vermaelen. Already this year they've moved on Javier Mascherano and Yerry Mina.
Having four fit defenders will be key to manager Ernesto Valverde, as he will be hoping his team can put together a challenge for silverware on multiple fronts. Both Christensen and Mere would surely be tempted by the prospect of moving to a club like Barca, too.
The Chelsea man has found minutes difficult to come by at Stamford Bridge this season, with new manager Maurizio Sarri disposing of the three-man defence previously used by former boss Antonio Conte and putting his faith in David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger as a centre-back duo.
The Denmark international did get a chance in the recent 2-1 defeat to Wolves, and as the following tweets show, the 22-year-old's performance drew mixed reviews:
Still, having developed into a key player last season, the Dane will be disappointed to be a fringe option at Stamford Bridge, and the chance to impress at Barca would surely appeal to him.
The same goes for Mere, who finds himself playing his football in the second tier of German football not long after being rated as one of the best defensive prospects in Spain. It was considered a coup when Cologne landed him last summer, only for the team to suffer a shock relegation.
Cologne's official Twitter account commented on how confident the 21-year-old has been in his distribution in the 2. Bundesliga:
Cologne would not want to lose Mere, as his side are currently in second place in the table and have a chance of securing immediate promotion back to the Bundesliga.
However, with Christensen surely set to see more minutes at Chelsea over the festive period and in the latter stages of the season, the former Sporting Gijon man represents the more attainable target in January.