Barcelona are targeting affordable center-backs to strengthen the squad in January, according to reports. Ronald Koeman is aiming to add a defender to provide competition to Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, and Ronald Araujo.
The Catalans are a little light in the center of defense, due to the unfortunate decline of Samuel Umtiti. The Frenchman joined Barcelona in the summer of 2016 and has managed 116 appearances over four seasons. Umtiti missed the majority of the last two seasons with injury and is no longer a part of Koeman’s plans.
Barcelona expect Umtiti to depart the Camp Nou in January, with multiple clubs interested in securing his services. And the Catalans already have a list of replacement central defenders they are preparing to target. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barcelona are short of funds required to afford a top defender and could be forced to turn their attentions to inexpensive options instead.
Barcelona are looking for budget defenders due to financial constrains
Barcelona had earlier requested squad members to take a pay cut to help the club deal with the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Catalans have been hit with losses of over £200 million in the last few months, and are forced to attempt to strike budget deals at the moment.
Barcelona’s primary target is Manchester City defender Eric Garcia, a player who rose through the ranks at the La Masia academy but left for City as a 17-year-old. The Spaniard wants a return to the Camp Nou, but negotiations with the Premier League side have reached a stalemate. City want £13.5 million for Garcia, but Barcelona are reluctant to pay that amount for the player. The Spaniard could instead wait until next summer, when his current deal with City runs out, and return to the Camp Nou for free.
However, Barcelona may not be willing to wait until next year, and as such, already have alternatives to the Spaniard identified. One of them is Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger, the German defender who was close to an exit from Stamford Bridge in the summer. With Rudiger no longer in Frank Lampard’s plans, Barcelona could step up their efforts to land the defender in January.
Besides Rudiger, the Blaugrana also have their eyes on Liverpool defender Joel Matip. However, the Reds would be unwilling to sell the player because they are already going through a major defensive crisis themselves. Other players that Barcelona have on their shortlist are Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal, Federico Fazio of AS Roma, German Pezzella of Fiorentina, and Mateo Musacchio of AC Milan.Published 15 Nov 2020, 22:08 IST