One of the top defenders in one of the most defensive leagues in football could be moving to Barcelona to help strengthen the defense. Winning formula!
According to reports in Italy, the Blaugrana are interested in signing AS Roma's Kostas Manolas, one of the best center-backs in the Italian league, perhaps just below Juventus stars Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci in the SADR (Serie A Defenders Ranking, a name I just made up).
The 25-year-old is the definition of a "beast": a very physical defender who beats the hell out of opposing attackers without committing too many fouls, is very imposing in the air and is surprisingly fast for his position and size. Coming from Greece, you wouldn't expect Manolas to be good on the ball, but he actually is pretty competent passing out from the back, which certainly fits Barça.
Manolas is in some ways a very similar player to Samuel Umtiti, who joined the Blaugrana in the summer and instantly fit into the starting lineup thanks to his combination of physicality and skills. If you're looking for a backup in the Barça defense, you can't really go wrong with Manolas.
And here's the deal: he loves Barça's style and has already said he would love to join the club at some point. And the genius that is Barça sporting director Robert Fernández did something very clever this summer: when he loaned Thomas Vermaelen to Roma, he somehow included an option to buy Manolas for €25 million, sources told Barça Blaugranes. Roma don't want Vermaelen and are desperate to keep their Greek god, but if Manolas says he wants to go to Barça next summer, then he'll go. It's that simple.
Of course, this is just early October and a lot could happen until next July, when the deal would likely happen. But if it does, I wouldn't mind. Manolas is good. Very good.