Could West Ham or Crystal Palace sign Barcelona starlet?

The latest Barcelona player to be linked with a move to the Premier League is defender Marc Bartra.

At this time of year, many transfer rumours are not even worth the time it takes to read them. Others are read in hope more than anticipation. But a few make sense, both for the clubs and the players in question.

Up until now, most transfer talk surrounding West Ham has been about Andy Carroll. And after such an impressive season for defenders Winston Reid and James Collins, talk of a new centre-back will have been some way down the agenda.

And yet talk there is – of Barcelona’s 22-year-old defender Marc Bartra possibly arriving on a season-long loan deal.

With 12 months left on his current contract, talk in Spain is of a new deal being offered prior to a temporary move away from the Nou Camp. Should Bartra refuse a new offer, newspaper Marca has reported that he will be sold this summer.

Bartra’s campaign has been an interesting one, picked only when there was little option – following injuries to the likes of Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano – most notably in the Champions League thumping at the hands of Bayern Munich.

In total he has made eight starts and eight substitute appearances for the Catalan club. And despite being some way down Tito Vilanova’s pecking order, the suggestion from some is that he is seen as a long-term replacement for the 35-year-old Puyol.

Should that be the case, a season in the Premier League could be the best for all parties. It would certainly introduce a different style of play to Bartra, readying him for English opponents if and when he faces them in future Champions League campaigns.  And it will also offer Sam Allardyce an alternative should either Collins or Reid be unavailable.

And yet the Hammers are not Bartra’s only option, as newly-promoted Crystal Palace have also seen their name thrown into the hat for his services.

And it will be interesting to see if Ian Holloway can convince the Spaniard that his short-term future is at Selhurst Park, where he will compete with the likes of Danny Gabbidon, Peter Ramage and the returning Paddy McCarthy for a place in the first 11.

Palace will certainly be on the lookout for a number of new players this summer. But much depends on whether Holloway is prepared to sign temporary fixes or permanent solutions.

The way Bartra has ended this season – in the stands rather than in the match-day squad even when the games were nothing more than kick-abouts – suggests the signing of a new deal is not a foregone conclusion; in which case either Allardyce or Holloway may attempt to sign the player in a permanent deal.

Marca reports that any such deal will contain a buy-back clause for the La Liga champions.

But a defender whose main areas of strength are blocking the ball and passing it out of defence could be exactly what both managers are looking for.

Also strong aerially and when tackling opponents – perhaps he will one day replace Puyol. But at 22, he will want to be playing in the meantime.

Would Bartra be a good addition to either the Hammers or the Eagles next season?  And should the move only be on loan, would you prefer to focus on permanent signings?

image: © mariosp

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