Do Barcelona need another centre-back?

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Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen and Liverpool’s Daniel Agger are among the centre-backs linked with moves to Barcelona.

Barcelona’s four-year quest to sign a top-class centre-back finally came to fruition last month when they recruited Jeremy Mathieu from Valencia for €20 million (£16m).

However, there are reports doing the rounds that the Spanish and European giants want another central defender.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Marquinhos, Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen, Tottenham Hotspur’s Jan Vertonghen and Liverpool’s Daniel Agger have all been linked with moves to Camp Nou.

Those reports are yet to be confirmed, but irrespective of that, one has to ask whether Barcelona still need another centre-back.

Mathieu may be 30 years of age and not exactly a ‘world-class player’, but in the former Toulouse star, Barcelona have signed a versatile footballer who can play in two positions in defence.

The France international is essentially a left-back who can also play as a centre-back. In fact, it is only in the past two or so years that Mathieu has regularly featured in central defence, having played at left-back throughout his career prior to that switch.

Which means that Mathieu can not only partner Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano in a three-man defence should new coach Luis Enrique opt for that strategy, but he can also compete with Jordi Alba for the left-back slot in a four-man backline.

Mathieu’s arrival at Camp Nou means that Barca now have four ‘recognised’ centre-backs: Pique, Mascherano, Marc Bartra and the Frenchman.

Argentina international Mascherano is a defensive midfielder by trade and was arguably the best player in that position at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but he is equally accomplished in defence.

All of which means that Enrique will have options this season when it comes to organising his defence, and it does not look that he will have space for another ‘top-class’ centre-back in his team without making a few players concerned about their playing time.

Unless Mathieu was signed as a left-back with a view to giving Alba more competition and helping out in central defence whenever needed, and Enrique wants to regularly deploy Mascherano in his favoured midfield role.

In that case, it makes sense if Barcelona are still looking for a centre-back, but where will they find a truly world-class player in that position?

Of the four players mentioned in regard to a move to Barcelona – Marquinhos, Vermaelen, Vertonghen and Agger – none of them is actually a feasible option for one reason or the other.

While Vertonghen is happy at Tottenham, 29-year-old Agger is injury-plagued and PSG have reportedly turned down an offer for Marquinhos, Vermaelen is believed to be on the radar of Manchester United and at 28 may not be the best long-term option.

Germany international defender Mats Hummels would have been the best fit for Barcelona, but his club Borussia Dortmund are adamant that the 25-year-old is not for sale.

Perhaps it would be best for Barcelona if they do not hunt for more centre-backs this summer and try to promote youth team players instead.

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