Forget Suárez and Rakitić, Barcelona need defenders and quick

After a trophyless 2013-14, new Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique has started the considerable job of turning the historic club’s fortunes around.

With a momentous generation of La Masia graduates such as Carles Puyol, Víctor Valdés and Xavi Hernández either no longer at the club or diminished forces, action is needed in the transfer market to spark a successful Camp Nou transition.

Initial signs are very positive.

The acquisition of Ivan Rakitić is a clever piece of business and negates the sale of Cesc Fàbregas to Chelsea.

Despite unavailability for the first chunk of the season, Luis Suárez’s signing is massively exciting. An eye-watering front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and the Uruguayan will surely strike fear into even the most experienced opposition defence.

With the likes of Alen Halilović joining the B side, Gerard Deulofeu returning from a bright loan spell at Everton and Rafinha Alcântara seemingly deemed ready for first-team action, the offensive options at Enrique’s disposal are as good as any in world football.

However, the Blaugrana have been stretched thin at the back for the last 18 months and are in real need of new personnel to cover for the attacking players in the side.

Javier Mascherano had a fantastic World Cup for Argentina, which will be a source for optimism for Barcelona. However, Alejandro Sabella deployed the ex-Liverpool battler in the centre of midfield, not as a centre-back where he inevitably ends up at club level.

The Argentine can certainly do a job in defence against modest opposition but for Barcelona to recapture the glory days of the Pep Guardiola era he cannot be relied on to be played out of position in big games.

Although Iker Casillas was singled out as the major scapegoat for Spain’s terrible tournament, Gerard Piqué’s performance against Netherlands should not be overlooked.

The experienced Spaniard has been out of form for some time now and has been found out on occasion for club and country.

With back-up options such as Marc Bartra yet to fully inspire confidence or show that he is up to the task, options at centre-half are thin on the ground.

Without the leadership of Puyol and Valdés to rely on, steely characters are needed to see Barcelona back to their ominous best, but there does not seem to be many in the defensive third in the current squad.

With Financial Fair Play to contend with and the side’s acquisitions costing more than their two major player sales, a question of just how much money is left to be spent on reinforcing the side’s back four remains.

Surely the club will be looking at a top-drawer option that can be a driving force in the team for years to come. However, such players cost a pretty penny and there is an argument to suggest Barcelona need two of them.

Although the players that have come into the club will understandably evoke excitement in the Camp Nou crowd, there is a feeling that Barca’s priorities are skewed.

Despite the vision of Rakitić and brilliance of Suárez at his best, the holes in the side’s rearguard that have been exploited on the biggest stage over the last 24 months look no closer to being plugged.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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