With a January exit looking more and more likely for Javier Mascherano, Barcelona must turn to the transfer market in search of a centre-back, something they were planning to do next summer in any case.
Bringing in quality in the winter window is never an easy task, but the Blaugrana will have to try their best.
Making the task even more problematic is the fact that they cannot just hire a regular centre-back, as they also need one who can pass out from the back in the Barcelona style.
The club’s recent record in signing central defenders doesn’t make for optimistic reading either.
Barcelona have spent around 200 million euros on the position this century, but have only brought in five centre-backs who have performed to a good level, namely Rafael Marquez, Gabriel Milito, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Mascherano himself.
Interestingly, there is only one precedent of bringing in a centre-back in the winter, that of Frank de Boer, who arrived in January of 1998 and who turned out to be a good signing.
So what are Barcelona’s options this time around?
Well, here are their three choices.
- Sign a centre-back: This is the option the club is currently working on, with Inigo Martinez of Real Sociedad well liked, even if he costs 32m euros.
- Make do with what they have: This is a more risky solution, as there would only be Pique, Umtiti and Vermaelen left, with Umtiti out injured until February and with the latter known to be injury-prone. They could also turn to the B team, but this is still a risky option.
- Don’t let Mascherano go: Nobody could blame Barcelona for looking out for their interests and denying the Argentine the right to leave. Yet they have already shown they could be willing to let him leaving, making this the least likely option to come to fruition.