FC Barcelona’s well-publicised pursuit of Brazilian centre-half Thiago Silva has continued in recent days, as yesterday reports emerged from Spain that Barcelona have reached an agreement with Silva; a report that was subsequently denied (via Twitter) by a member of Silva’s entourage. However, there was yet another twist to come in this saga, as Barcelona full-back Adriano revealed that Thiago Silva "wants" to join him at the Camp Nou; while Sky Italia claimed that Paris Saint-Germain are interested in signing Roma centre-half Marquinhos, possibly as a replacement for their "Barça-bound" captain.
What was once seen as an ‘impossible’ transfer now seems almost probable; although there are still some Culés who are totally opposed to the move. While there can be no doubting his ability, there are question marks surrounding his fitness, and any potential transfer fee.
Why should Barcelona spend upwards of €35 million for an "ageing" Brazilian centre-half? Wouldn’t their funds be better invested in a genuine talent, such as Marquinhos?
Two valid questions, as a club fabled for its attitudes towards youth and youth development looks set to take an almost "galactic" step in the opposite direction. Ideologically, it’s a transfer that appears to be torn from the book of Florentino Perez, who – somewhat bizarrely – has changed his tune in recent weeks, signing Isco from Malaga before turning his attentions to Asier Illarramendi of Real Sociedad.
On the other hand, who can blame Barcelona given their history signing youthful central defenders?
Dmytro Chygrynskiy arrived at the Camp Nou in 2009 at the tender age of 22, having signed a five-year deal in a transfer worth €25 million. After a couple of impressive seasons at Shakhtar Donetsk, Chygrynskiy was tipped to be a success at the Camp Nou, only to leave the club for €15 million after a forgettable debut season.
21 year-old Martin Caceres was signed for €16.5 million from Villarreal after the Uruguayan’s break-out campaign on loan at Recreativo. Yet, after just one season with the club, Barcelona decided that they had seen enough of Caceres, loaning him to Juventus and Sevilla for the next two seasons, before he joined the latter on a permanent deal, believed to worth around €4.5 million.
Henrique is another example, signed for €8 million back in 2008, the Brazilian centre-half failed to make a single appearance in his time at Barcelona, before being released on a free transfer in 2011, with two years remaining on his five-year contract.
That’s a total of 37 first-team appearances, costing the Blaugrana approximately €50 million in transfer fees, and a small fortune in wages. Contrast this with the signings of Eric Abidal, Gabriel Milito and Javier Mascherano, who arrived for a combined fee in the region of €60 million, amassing a total of 406 appearances in their respective spells with the club (to date).
There are notable exceptions of course, Gerard Piqué being the quintessential example, although perhaps Piqué’s success at the club owes to his La Masia schooling and the relatively low transfer fee; just as a youthful Rafael Marquez achieved success at the Camp Nou after arriving for a inconsequential €5 million in 2003.
Maybe Marquinhos would be the next Gerard Piqué, the next Rafael Marquez, or even the next Thiago Silva; but at such an inflated price, Barcelona cannot afford to gamble, especially knowing that for a fraction more, they can sign the real deal.