The defeat against Levante, Barcelona‘s first of the season in LaLiga, served to put on the table an issue that has been set aside for the past few weeks: the signing of a new centre-back.
Historically, the position has been one of the most complicated to cover at the club because they require a very specific type of player to occupy that area of the field.
Since the departure of Carles Puyol, Barcelona have dedicated money and efforts to find a replacement.
It’s something that Robert Fernandez successfully achieved when signing Samuel Umtiti.
However, it seems evident that the problem isn’t completely solved.
At present, only the continuity of Gerard Pique is assured next season.
The other three specialists in the position generate doubts, either because of their performance or their contractual situation.
Pique’s dance partner in the starting lineup.
In general, the Frenchman has been at a great level in his first two seasons at Barcelona.
But his contract is a thorny issue.
It ends in 2021 and has a termination clause of 60 million euros.
Umtiti is using that amount, which is affordable for Europe’s big teams, as a measure of pressure in the negotiations of his renewal.
Although Barcelona want him to renew as soon as possible, they’re not willing to do it at any price.
Further, since Umtiti began to talk about his contract in French media, his performance levels have dropped.
He is the third centre-back of the team and a man which Valverde has always spoken well about.
The problem is his tendency to get injured.
This year he’s been lucky and had fewer casualties than usual, but the game at Levante reminded the Catalans of the ease with which the Belgian breaks down.
The club simply don’t know if they will be able to count on him in the medium to long term.
In addition, his contract ends in 2019, so the club must assess the situation.
Do they find him another team to generate income or renew him?
As of Monday, it’s not clear if he is at the right level to be a Barcelona centre-back.
He has played very little and his performance against Levante on Sunday was, frankly, awful.
Most of Levante’s goals were his fault.
Valverde has shown a lack of confidence in him in his first few months, but the intention of the club is for him to stay and adapt to the team and LaLiga.
However, he also has the handicap of having an extra-community passport, and therefore his presence in the squad would stop the arrival of other players, like Arthur.
The need to sign
Seeing how the situation is, it would be wise for Barccelona to make a move in the summer market for a world class central defender.
That the player is adapted to Spain and has experience in LaLiga would be a factor to take into account.
In this context, Clement Lenglet of Sevilla, whose termination clause is 30 million euros, would be ideal.
Now that doubts have returned, the Frenchman seems a reasonable option to shore up the back line.