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Barcelona must protect Ronald Araujo at all costs

Jewel in the crown

FC Barcelona v SL Benfica: Group E - UEFA Champions League Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

I’m going to stick my neck out straight from the off.

Ronald Araujo is the best and most important player that Barca have in their current squad.

The Uruguayan has grown into the responsibility of being a first-team centre-back at the club with ease, and unless injuries preclude him from doing so, he has to be one of the first names on Xavi’s team sheet each week.

Like all good centre-backs, there’s an elegance to his play. He glides across the turf, looking serene as he does so, though he’s a warrior too and certainly isn’t frightened of putting his foot in.

In many respects his skill set is the best of both worlds.

An old school ‘in your face’ exponent if that’s needed, coupled with the balance and poise to be able to bring the ball out of defence with ease.

Villarreal CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images

Powerful and quick, and with an eye for goal, he has everything in his locker already, at just 22.

I certainly don’t recall too many in his position at that age that are as genuinely capable in all facets.

If Barca and Xavi have a problem, it’s who to pair him with longer term, as well as ensuring the vultures don’t manage to get their claws into their prey.

Araujo must be protected at all costs for he is a cornerstone of the new project and the new Barca.

Goal scorers and strikers almost universally get the acclaim when their teams do well, but any successful side has always been built on a solid back line.

Araujo offers that solidity. When the powerhouse is sat alongside Gerard Pique, invariably he’ll mop up from behind as required, his pace and tackling ability getting the Blaugranes out of trouble on more than one occasion.

He’s so good in fact, that if Barca played with a Libero, he’d be ready made.

Clearly, the club prefer to offer the captaincy to those players who have come up through La Masia, which is understandable, however, I defy anyone to disagree that Ronald Araujo won’t deserve the armband in future.

Lastly, and some may not see it as important, it’s also worthwhile mentioning his temperament.

The Uruguayan spirit is definitely still there and rises above the surface occasionally, but it’s clear that he has all of the values that Barca as an entity hold dear.

Araujo-dependance anyone?!