Barcelona have finally signed a central defender.
It's been an agonizing process, with apparently thousands of candidates over a 5-year period. In the end, Jeremy Mathieu is the one privileged with the blue-and-red jersey.
Five years. That's how long it's been since Barcelona signed Dmytro Chygrynskiy before selling him back at a substantial loss the next year.
But rather than rejoicing over the end of the drought, the Blaugrana fanbase was confused. Mathieu is not a star like Mats Hummels or Thiago Silva, neither is he a young promise like Eliaquim Mangala or Eder Balanta
Mathieu is a former left-back, soon to be 31, and made only a couple of appearances for the French national team. He's neither a known star nor an unknown promise.
Some skepticism is justified, but anyone who has paid attention to Valencia should know Barcelona are getting a quality player. He's got height and pace - precisely what Barcelona's leaky backline lacks. He has familiarity with the Liga. And crucially, he's hungry. He took a pay cut to sign for Barca. It clearly was his dream.
Mathieu provides tactical options as well. He's a much more natural fit to a three-man defense than the pint-sized Jordi Alba, who has played as a left-sided CB on more than one occasion. He can also give the defense a different look if he plays at left-back, giving the team a tall, defensive fullback to counterbalance the fast, attacking Dani Alves... for the first time since Eric Abidal's departure.
The only sticking point is the price. Barcelona paid Mathieu's release clause, €20 million. That amount won't break the bank but is more than what one would think a player of his profile would fetch. It's worse when one considers Barcelona were close to getting him at half the price last year.
The only reason the cost matters is because it means it's less money left over for other signings. One more CB, plus the sale of Alex Song, would be the best policy for me. Fiorentina's winger Juan Cuadrado, who has been linked heavily with a move to Catalonia, is a great player but less of a priority in my opinion.
That being said, with Mathieu's pay cut, the cost of the transfer is lessened. And it's much better policy to overspend for a player that's needed than do what Barca have done for years now: skimp out because the price isn't perfect.
Incomplete list of CBs Barcelona Have Been Linked To:
David Luiz, Miranda, Thiago Silva, Mangala, Marquinhos, Benatia, Musacchio, Rodrigo Caio, Laporte, Adil Rami, Branislav Ivanovic, Iñigo Martinez, Garay, Jan Vertonghen, Santiago Vergini, Balanta, Daniel Agger, Vermaelen, Javi Martinez, Alberto Botia, Benedikt Howedes, Aymen Abdennour...
- FC Barcelona News: 26 July 2014; 26 Players to Travel to England, Lionel Messi Shines in Deco Testimonial Game
- Andrés Iniesta: 'It feels a lot like 2008'
- Barca Blaugranes Off Topic Thread
- FC Barcelona News: 25 July 2014; Jeremy Mathieu Signs Barcelona Contract, Internationals Join Team in Training
- Report: FC Barcelona Interested in Arsenal FC Thomas Vermaelen