Barcelona are reportedly looking to revamp their centre-back options with one of Aymeric Laporte, Marquinhos, Jose Maria Gimenez and John Stones.
According to Mundo Deportivo, sporting director Robert Fernandez believes La Blaugrana’s backline needs freshening up with the future in mind.
Although Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano remain Barca’s first-choice partnership, with Marc Bartra, Jeremy Mathieu and Thomas Vermaelen on standby, the Argentine is now 31 and has not yet abandoned hopes of returning to midfield.
Elsewhere, Marc Bartra is expected to reassess his future next summer if he continues to play second-fiddle behind Pique and Mascherano, while Jeremy Mathieu’s performances and Thomas Vermaelen’s long-term fitness have come under scrutiny.
Consequently, Robert has assembled four defensive targets between the ages of 20 and 21, whom he feels can lead the club into the next decade.
The first name on his shortlist is Laporte, who has already played over 100 games for Athletic Bilbao but would likely warrant a sizeable transfer fee, given he recently signed a new contract with a €50m release clause and holds Basque status.
Next up is Gimenez, who has been regarded as the new Diego Godin for his strength and composure and always stood up well to Barca’s attack.
The Uruguayan is understood to have a low release clause, set at €24m, and reportedly attracted Manchester United’s advances this summer.
Further down the list are Marquinhos, who MD claim is “the perfect candidate but impossible dream” after two previously-failed bids to lure him away from Paris Saint-Germain, and Everton’s John Stones, although British players have historically struggled at Camp Nou.