Barcelona must sign a centre back – Garcia and the options to replace crocked Pique

Carlo Garganese
Carlo Garganese Updated: 17 May 2021 22:06 BST 3 min read
Barcelona must sign a centre back – Garcia and the options to replace crocked Pique

Barcelona’s miserable 2020 continues to go from bad worse, following the news that star defender Gerard Pique faces a long spell on the sidelines.

The 33-year-old was forced off the field in agony with a knee injury during Barca’s 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid on Saturday evening.

Tests will be carried out on Sunday to determine the severity of the injury, with the worst-case scenario being an ACL tear which would rule Pique out for the rest of the season.

Even in a best-case scenario, where there is a sprain and no ACL damage, Pique is expected to be sidelined for at least two months.

This means that Barcelona simply must sign a centre back in the January transfer window. Ronald Koeman was already short of centre back options going into the new season but now he faces an emergency situation.

Samuel Umtiti has not played a game all season due to his chronic knee injury. Sadly the Frenchman is a player who cannot be relied upon anymore, having had six knee injuries since 2018 alone.

Ronald Araujo is also sidelined right now with a hamstring problem and is very inexperienced anyway.

This leaves Clement Lenglet as the only natural option in defence. Indeed, things have been so bad that Frenkie de Jong has even been forced to play at centre back on two occasions this season.

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  • Barcelona currently find themselves languishing in mid-table in La Liga, already well off the teams at the top of the standings. While failing to finish in the top four may seem improbable, it should not be considered impossible given Barcelona’s current crisis on and off the pitch, as well as in the treatment room. Remember, wonderkid Ansu Fati is also sidelined until March at the earliest with a meniscus tear.

    Due to Barcelona’s difficult financial situation, they will not be able to spend big money on a transfer fee in January. It also must be recognised that signing players mid-season is notoriously difficult.

    However, there are options out there. Defenders whose contracts expire at the end of the current season are the most viable options as Barca will have more chance of signing them for a minimal fee.

    The favourite to come in is Eric Garcia. The 19-year-old rejected a new contract offer from Manchester City and will certainly leave the club when his deal runs out next summer.

    Barcelona will certainly sign him in 2021 but want to bring his arrival forward to January. However, City have been demanding €20 million, a fee Barca simply can’t pay.

    It’s also questionable whether Garcia is the right player to strengthen Barcelona’s shaky backline. He is a defender who has split the critics in England, but he knows the environment well having spent nine years as a Barca youth player before moving to City in 2017.

    Other realistic options in January for Barca include Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger, Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi, Roma’s Federico Fazio and Fiorentina’s German Pezzella. All these defenders could be signed on loan with an option to buy. However, Garcia would likely be a preferable option.

    Rudiger, Mustafi and Fazio are all out of favour at their clubs and would not go down well with the frustrated Barcelona fanbase.

    The dream signing would be David Alaba, whose contract also expires in the summer of 2021. But his salary will be astronomical, while there are numerous big clubs who are vying for his signature.

    What is certain is that Barcelona need to sign a centre back, and sign one fast.