5 South Americans who could follow Martino to Barcelona

Ezequiel Garay

With an extensive knowledge of South American football, it was only a matter of time before the rumours of a Latin influx began.

New Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino has coached in South America for his entire career, only in Argentina and Paraguay, even becoming Paraguay's national team manager between 2006 and 2011, so it's no surprise to see him linked with a number of South American players.

Here are five players that have recently been linked with a move to Catalunya…

LIVE Premier League match alerts to your phone - goals, red cards, half and full time scores

Nahuel Guzman, Goalkeeper, Newell's Old Boys

Martino has been linked with other players from his former club, including defenders Santiago Vergini and Milton Casco, his reported interest in goalkeeper Guzman seems more long-standing. Capable of making impressive saves as much as he is catastrophic errors, it's hard to see Guzman being the long-term successor to Victor Valdes, but as a backup should Pinto leave, Guzman looks to be capable.

Eder Balanta, Defender, River Plate

At just 20 years old, Balanta could be seen as one for the future, but he's impressed so much at River Plate that he could make an impact at the Camp Nou should be sign. Barcelona missed the boat with Marquinhos, and are trying to bring in a young defender to save themselves millions in the future… except River want a reported £42m for the Colombian's services. He may by shy of 6ft tall, but he's strong, fast and technically gifted - just what Barcelona want.

Ezequiel Garay, Defender, Benfica

Already accustomed to La Liga having featured for Racing Santander and Real Madrid, Garay has attracted the interest of Manchester United over the summer, but Catalan newspaper Sport suggest Martino has identified the Argentine as the man to solve Barca's defensive woes. Garay, standing at 6ft 4in, offers the height that Barcelona don't get from Carles Puyol or Javier Mascherano, which would help at both ends of the field. The 27-year-old has developed since leaving Madrid, and would be able to contribute right away in the heart of the defence.

Juan Camilo Zuniga, Defender, Napoli

Despite targeting the Colombian full back in the summer, Barcelona missed out on Zuniga as he signed a new deal with Napoli - but reports suggest that Zuniga has a clause inserted in the contract that states he can leave if Barcelona come calling. Their interest in Zuniga is two-fold, as he can play both full back spots, which is the role that Adriano has had in the squad in recent years and there are concerns that Dani Alves won't renew his contract and the Brazilian could be sold on in the near future.

Oscar Cardozo, Striker, Benfica

The appointment of Martino was particularly interesting, as whilst he plays the patented 4-3-3 that Barcelona have utilised for many years, Martino also promotes a more direct approach to the game and has been linked with a number of proverbial 'target men', with no recognised centre forward in the first team. Having worked with Cardozo whilst manager of Paraguay, Martino knows the ins and outs of the 30-year-old's game, and after scoring 164 goals in 267 games for Benfica, Cardozo says it's time to leave.

'I thank the fans for always being with me… but, after everything that has happened, it will be very hard to find motivation to continue. My head is far away from Benfica.'

Do you think Barcelona will sign any of these players? Are they good enough as the club look to progress? Comment below...

image: © jansolo09

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch