Injury to Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti has left the Catalan club with some big decisions to make.
The French international has been ruled out for up to eight weeks after injuring his hamstring in the clash at the Estadio Municipal de Balaídos against Celta Vigo and for a Barcelona team that’s prided itself on its new-found defensive prowess this looks to be a huge blow.
It wasn’t long ago that Lionel Messi told German magazine Kicker about the team’s new defensive capabilities and style of play without Neymar.
“We’ve lost some attacking power but we are better organised defensively,” he said.
“Our midfield is playing more calmly and we are better balanced. It has made us stronger defensively.”
With this in mind it’s clear that the team has some big decisions to make.
Umtiti might be slated for return in January but his injury has caused much to be said of the team’s apparent lack of depth at the centre-back position.
Javier Mascherano is the obvious choice to fill the role of Umtiti and according to numerous reports Lionel Messi has been vocal in his opinion that he should be picked but many have tipped the Argentinian to leave the club in January.
Should that be the case, Barca surely must look towards the transfer window to fill a void at the back.
Real Sociedad star Inigo Martinez is a player who has been linked with the Blaugrana in the past and one that would fill the void quite nicely.
There was a reluctance to meet the transfer fee for Martinez back in August but with the new developments this could be seen as a necessity.
Another who has been linked with the club is Palmeiras’ Colombian star Yerry Mina with Barcelona reportedly having an option to buy.
Mina’s contributions to Palmeiras over the last two years have seen his stock rise immensely.
He has six caps for his national side and is earmarked for a spot in next year’s World Cup in Russia for Colombia. At just 23 years, Mina could well be thought of as a short-term solution for Umtiti if his injury lingers as well as a long-term replacement for the ageing Pique.
The transfer window doesn’t always yield positive results though and should neither of these two players become regulars at the Camp Nou the team will have to look at other options.
Thomas Vermaelen has seen limited playing time in his four seasons at Barca and whether or not he’s up for the challenge of increased playing time is still unknown.
Another alternative should the transfer window not eventuate in increasing the team’s depth at the back would be to bring up some younger talent from the B team.
David Costas is one such player who many believe could do well in the first team but like any promotion, it’s fraught with risk.
Marlon Santos is another Barcelona youngster who could very well play a part inthe team’s future plans. The talented 22-year- old is currently on loan at Nice but can be recalled to the team at season's end should the need arise.
Umtiti’s return is obviously paramount to this season’s silverware ambitions but with an ageing Pique, a questionable future for Macherano and Vermaelen proving to be an unknown quantity it’s clear that the transfer window is the best course of action for success not only now but in the future for Football Club Barcelona.