How Barcelona can restructure their defence

Barça Youngsters Araujo and Mingueza

Throughout the years, FC Barcelona has endured a countless number of embarrassing defeats, starting from Roma to PSG. In each of the 4 disaster classes, there is a recurring pattern, where 3-4 players are all present at the defeat. Now is time for change, as Laporta’s second term begins in a fresh new season. Common problems MUST be solved before it happens again, and it all starts with the Barcelona defence.

Current Events

FC Barcelona are going through a messy situation, as the new La Liga salary cap, which is set in a way that Barca can only spend up to 383 million euros in wages this coming 21/22 season, gives off a significant road-block in the renewal of Messi and the registration of the new signings made this summer.

Right now, this is what the defence looks like, with its currently registered players:

  • Ter Stegen
  • Neto
  • Jordi Alba
  • Gerard Piqué
  • Sergi Roberto
  • Ronald Araujo
  • Samuel Umtiti
  • Clement Lenglet
  • Sergino Dest

Notable departures: Junior Firpo and Jean-Claire Todibo

New Faces

The newly acquired Eric Garcia and Emerson are not yet registered into the squad, as mentioned before and with Alejandro Balde inking down a new deal with Barca, it’s unclear if he will be a first team player or a B team player. Now let’s imagine that Emerson and Garcia are registered and are now officially apart of FC Barcelona and Balde is a first team player, the Blaugrana would have 2 left backs, 3 right backs and 5 centre backs.

Now that is a lot of depth! Player’s like Clement Lenglet and Umtiti don’t meet the sporting requirements according to the clubs sporting department, so it is better for them to leave but given their wages it is difficult to operate an exit for them, but Lenglet does attract interest in the premier league.

What can we add?

As stated, before FC Barcelona are in a messy situation. That currently prevents them from focusing on anything else other than the wage bill. Now let’s forget all about that and allow me to mention a move that can lighten our defence and our current dilemma.

Griezmann-Laporte exchange:

If you followed reports a while back, you may know that Man-City wants to get rid of either Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Sterling or Laporte. Out of the 4 world class players, the player we need the most is Laporte.

Don’t get me wrong, Eric Garcia is an excellent player, but he is too young and inexperienced to start in a possible ‘UCL contending squad’ Laporta is trying to build. Laporte entering his prime years, is an excellent fit for Barca. As his passing game is excellent, as well as his aerial ability, something Barca has been lacking constantly even though 6-foot 4 Gerard Pique is big, he often forgets to jump when it matters (especially in set pieces).

Laporte is left footed partnering a right footed Araujo will be a dream come true. In order for this deal to happen, we could barter Griezmann for Laporte. Griezmann, who is the one chosen to be exiled from the club, earns a fortune and is not sustainable for the Blaugrana. Barca needs to sell him off in order to renew Messi and register the new signings.

In contrast to Griezmann’s wages, Laporte only earns 7 million euros annually. By sanctioning this deal, Barca will get a huge dagger off its chest and reduce the wage bill drastically. Sadly, this move is unlikely to occur as Griezmann does not want to move outside of Spain. Moreover, City are likely not to be attracted by his massive annual salary of 45 million euros.

The ideal backline

Now getting into the core part of this article, ‘The ideal backline.’ Koeman has said and demonstrated that he will be using a 4-3-3 formation, this was seen during the first game of pre-season against Gimnastic.

My preferred back four would be:
GK: Ter Stegen/Left-back: Jordi Alba/Left centre-back: Araujo/Right centre-back: ? /Right-back: Emerson

The CB pairing

Before you start to question if Araujo (who is right footed) can play on the left-hand side, he certainly can, after watching his Barca B games he has filled in at LCB at some certain amount of times and has displayed good performances.

The right centre back position is a mystery as it raises concerns. Garcia is not yet developed; Pique is old and is at the twilight days of his career and Mingueza is much more suited in a back 3 or as a right back. Eric Garcia, is an excellent ball distributer and his passing is great but his defending is not so great as his physical stature prevents him from being an aerial threat, his man marking can also improve but during the Euros, he impressed many.

Mingueza is a odd case as he is a wonderful player. But he pushes up to be involved in the attack, leaving behind a vulnerable back line. Araujo and Emerson will be the only two players at the back. Alba will be very much involved in the attack, then you may also ask. “Why cannot Mingueza be told to stay back?” The simple answer is that being involved is a crucial part of his game, to get the best out of him you need him to be involved and that is why he is only suited to a 3 at the back system when he is a right centre back, otherwise in a back 4 he could be a right back.. The right centre-back role is certainly up for debate!

The RB position

Moving onto the right back position. Emerson, in my opinion should start, mainly because we NEED defensive cover, as Alba will be always going forward to help the attack. Emerson and Dest are both contrasting players, Dest is good offensively while Emerson is good defensively, but I am not trying to implement here that Emerson should be an undisputed starter.

The preferred choice should be him, clear of Dest. I expect a rotation between the two. For example, in games against Atletico, who enforce a defensive style. We would use Dest as he can penetrate their defence with his offensive abilities, but in games against Bayern, we would use Emerson for his defensive abilities. Sergi Roberto is the third choice right back, whose versatility can make him be seen as a midfielder as well.

The LB position

The left back role should not be even a question. Alba has cemented the position. With no clear competition, Jordi Alba is will be the undisputed starting left back. The sale of Junior Firpo to Leeds United gives minimal depth to the position and Balde is most likely still to be a Barca B player but will occasionally play for the first team providing back up for Alba.

Bottom line

With that all said, I think that with a correctly structured defence with a balanced midfield and electric attack. Koeman will certainly cook up some interesting football. We can only wait and see!

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