If anything has been learned about the transfer market in recent years, it should be the importance of prioritizing defenders.
Barcelona and Real Madrid are the cautionary tale of the consequences of reckless spending on high-profile attacking players.
Big goalscoring numbers are hard to replicate. Even more so when you change leagues, and play under a new coach with a different system.
A world-class defender is less risk, less money, and barring a bad injury, offers stability for years down the road.
Eric Garcia is not likely to make the impact of a Virgil van Dijk or Ruben Dias, but he is a good signing for the moment and the money.
Barcelona were patient and waited until this summer so he could arrive on a free transfer. It’s obvious that he wasn’t worth spilling out 20 million euros for a year ago, especially given his lack of experience at the highest level.
But his history is intriguing and makes you feel hopeful that he could have a bright future ahead.
Garcia gets bonus points for being Catalan and having Blaugrane blood. He developed as a player at La Masia during the golden years, and will now reunite with former friends and teammates Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig, and Oscar Mingueza.
Obligatory mention here that culers are eager to see these guys play together for the first team. Watching old footage of them in the academy is a good way to rekindle your love and appreciation for what this great club has to offer.
From Barcelona, Garcia made his way to Manchester City at 17 years old to play under Pep Guardiola, who of course knew the profile he was looking for in a defender.
After a year playing for the under 18s, he made his debut for the first team in the Premier League in September of 2019, recording 13 appearances in total that year.
After the return from the pandemic suspension, his season ended after a scary collision with goalkeeper Ederson that saw him taken off the field on a stretcher.
From there, it became known that Barcelona was keen to sign him, and that Manchester City was more than willing to sell for the right price with Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias Pep Guardiola’s preferred choices.
With the resurgence of John Stones, Eric Garcia saw his role at the Etihad shrink further, and in the end recorded just 6 appearances in 2020-2021.
So what can Barcelona expect from him?
In spite of his small role, Garcia was in a rigorous and winning environment at Manchester City, developing under one of the best managers in the world, and forced to compete with some of the best defenders who led the league with only 32 goals against.
Best of all, this was a team with a championship mentality. They dominated domestically, and would have earned a treble if it weren’t for a disappointing performance in the Champions League final.
Barcelona will hope that Garcia brings that swagger and hunger for winning to a much-maligned defensive line.
The more competition for playing time the better.
Barcelona may not have the funds to bring in a more proven and exciting name like Laporte or Matthijs de Ligt, especially without finding a new home for Samuel Umtiti.
Still, having Garcia on the roster helps. It will push Ronald Araujo and Oscar Mingueza to be at the top of their games. It also gives space to move away from using Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet on a regular basis.
In the bigger picture, the best we can hope for is that Joan Laporta values defense above all else. There is already enough attacking talent on the roster, but it will need to be supported by defenders who can be counted on to keep costly errors to a minimum.
Garcia is the first, but hopefully not the last center-back brought to the Camp Nou this summer.
In the meantime, all eyes are on him and Spain at the Euros. Hopefully he learns a lot from another great former Barca manager before reporting for duty at the Camp Nou.