A few days ago, we learned that Barcelona's coaching staff is threatening to move Jérémy Mathieu out of Camp Nou if the French center-back doesn't improve in the upcoming months. And it appears that the Blaugrana are already lining up some potential replacements. Key word here, "potential". In all senses.
Sources told Barça Blaugranes that the Catalan giants are keen on signing a center-back for January, especially if they don't see any evolution with Mathieu. They want a quality backup to Gerard Piqué and Javier Mascherano to put alongside Marc Bartra and Thomas Vermaelen in order to maintain the squad's depth. Plus, club officials are looking for a young defender with plenty of potential and versatility to finally establish a bright future at the position.
And the selected targets are Paris Saint-Germain's Marquinhos and Athletic Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte, sources say. These two are also being followed closely by Premier League giants Chelsea, who want at least one of them to strengthen the team's shaky defense, which means we should be in for another battle between two bitter rivals, this time off the pitch.
What attracts sporting director Robert Fernández -- and coach Luis Enrique, who reportedly has been consulted as well -- to these two specific players is their ability to play as center- and/or full-backs, which is vital for today's football, and Barça's style for the matter.
With Sergi Roberto doing great as a right-back and the growing necessity for a good backup to Jordi Alba with the potential departures of Adriano and Mathieu, it's more likely that Laporte is the preferred target. Both players will need a hefty investment, in the €45 million range, but they're certainly worth it because of what their careers could become in a very short period of time, if given a good number of opportunities to improve and develop.
Which of these two would be your dream signing, Blaugranes? One thing is for sure: Barça does want them both.