Who will be his successor? Will Barcelona only think of replacing Puyol once he retires?
If you happen to read any or all the transfer speculation regarding FC Barcelona this summer, you will notice that mostly all the players that are linked to the team are attack oriented players. If Barcelona are to build on the current squad to make them into a team able to retain the Champions League and other honors, defense must be strengthened.
Alexis Sanchez, Giuseppe Rossi, Neymar, Cesc Fabregas, Willian, Pastore, Eden Hazard, are just a few of the names being associated as potential Barcelona players. What they all have in common is that they are young, and highly sought after attacking talent, The problem is that they play in positions in which Barcelona has an abundance of talent in their place already. Villa, Messi, Pedro, Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, are the core players which make up Barcelona's attack with Keita, Thiago, Afellay, Mascherano, Jeffren, Bojan on the bench as backups.
Barcelona are clearly stacked when it comes to midfielders, so if Barcelona are to make a buy it will most likely be for a striker and at a reasonable price since 45 million is the budget. More attacking players could be bought if Barcelona sell some of their fringe players but again, any player bought will find it hard for first team football.
Pedro and David Villa are always associated as the players whose positions are most threatened by a new purchase, but I feel that any attacker brought to Barcelona will find it extremely hard to bench these two world class players. What Villa and Pedro have in common is that they sacrifice for the team, help in defense, get along with Messi, and are just to good a trio to eliminate any of them.
More remote is any being able to bench a midfield of Xavi, Iniesta, and Busquets. I cannot see any possible purchase being able to bench any of the starters for a significant amount of time. The fact that they are Barcelona proven, makes their position as starters irrefutable, and seems to any challenger, insurmountable. The need therefore, for dream transfers such as the mentioned, being quoted at over 30million is highly unrealistic and unnecessary. What Barcelona really need to be looking to improve upon is their defense.
The gulf of talent between the world class attackers being associated with Barcelona and with the average defensive talent being linked to the team is unfortunate. Jose Angel, Jose Enrique, are the few players that have emerged as targets to strengthen defense. Why is it that when transfers are considered, the attackers linked to this team are of star quality while the defense associated with it is of average quality? The problem of the team for the past three season has always been finding abundant defensive cover for the whole season, and yet there is no mention of transfer targets. why?
Maxwell, Adriano, Milito, Fontas are the defenders which are cover for the team when Puyol, Pique, Alves, or Abidal are injured. It is safe to say that Milito and Maxwell are defenders that are not up to the standards demanded of them when they are needed as cover. Milito has not played consistently since 09 while Maxwell will always play second fiddle to Abidal and now Adriano is seen as a more reliable defensive cover should any of the fullbacks become injured.
In the past two Champions League finals, Barcelona have played with a defensive midfielder in defense specifically because they have few trustworthy defensive options. Therefore it is appalling when a team puts so much emphasis on securing players for overbooked positions while neglecting a sector in which it lacks significant cover. The reason Barcelona win, although not often give credit, is because for all it's talent in attack, it also possesses a top first choice defense in Alves- Puyol- Pique- Abidal. However, as we saw this season Puyol and Abidal fell injured and ill for large stretches of the campaign. Therefore instead of focusing to make Barcelona top heavy, the managers and directors should really focus on strengthening the base which allows this team to play beautiful and win titles.
I have yet to hear the mention, or even rumors, of Barcelona being linked to top quality defensive talent in this transfer window and the fact that the budget is limited and the attackers linked so overpriced, makes this matter of high importance. Maybe it is because defenders aren't star power, or because magazine's can't sell copies if a famous players face isn't on it, but the fact that Barcelona seem to have completely overlooked their defense is a shame. I for one hope that the budget of 45 million will be used to buy at least one top quality center back and if possible a right back.
The fact that this team is being associated with players it does not need, is a luxury it cannot afford. This transfer season, Barcelona are more like Florentino's Real in that they are focusing on players that they cannot afford and don't need to be a good team. While like his Galactico's, the weakness lies in defense but this area is completely being ignored as if teams could really win trophies based on their attack alone. If Barcelona are to continue to be the best team of this era, a stronger defense is a must because if Barcelona has a weakness, their defense is where it lies.