Barcelona have been searching for a right-back ever since Dani Alves left – the first time.
The position has turned into something of a problem for the Blaugrana in recent years and once again has reared it’s head. The season began with Ronald Araujo at right-back, a position that clearly did not suit him. Jules Kounde then took over the job, but has publicly declared his desire to compete in central defence.
Sergi Roberto seems to be trusted enough as a rotational option, but few are comfortable with him as the starting right-back, especially given his fitness issues of late. Meanwhile summer signing Hector Bellerin has also suffered from injury at various points. Even when he has played, the results were not particularly impressive.
Arguably the most assured option was youngster Alejandro Balde, but with his long-term future at left-back, all of the noise coming out of Can Barca suggests that Barcelona will look for a better solution, should they be allowed to sign. Here we analyse all of the options mentioned in recent months:
The Belgian defender has admitted he was contacted last January and brings a wealth of experience at top teams to the position. At the age of 31, he would likely be a short-term solution and if Borussia Dortmund remain as resolute as they did last January, Barcelona would likely have to pay over €20m in order to twist their arm. His contract is up at the end of 2024, meaning that Dortmund have to cash in on him in the next 12 months to have a chance of doing so.
This deal seems improbable though. The age, price and probable salary demands would make this a relatively expensive transfer in terms of potential return. Neither does he appear to be someone Barcelona are convinced can solve their issues, rather an option if other plans fail.
Barcelona were strongly linked with Foyth at the end of the summer transfer window and he fits many of their requirements. Aged 24, adept on the ball and defensively solid, he could perfectly be the more defensive full-back in four, or even part of a three should Xavi Hernandez desire. In addition, his chief advocate Unai Emery has recently left the club, meaning new manager Quique Setien would perhaps fight less to keep him (and Foyth might be less inclined to stay).
The major stumbling block is the price though. His release clause is set at €42m and with Villarreal in a financially healthy position, there is little need for them to back down from that figure. Given Barcelona appear to be looking at more modest fees, it appears highly unlikely they could pry Foyth from the Yellow Submarine.
The 23-year-old right-back has been in good form for Manchester United of late and has managed to play his way onto the plane for World Cup with Portugal. Athletic, technical and used to getting forward, Dalot fits the bill in terms of style. The crucial factor is his contract. His deal expires at the end of the summer, yet Manchester United have an option to extend it for a further year.
Whether they do or not could be decisive. The Red Devils are likely trying to hammer out a new long-term deal for Dalot instead of taking drastic action, and it may well be that the links are leaking out on the part of his agent in order to drive up the price.
The price is crucial. If Dalot is not available on a free, then it is highly unlikely he will sign for Barcelona. If he is, then it would be no surprise to see Barcelona make a strong effort to sign him. The ball is not in their court though and as such, this transfer has a chance, but is probably a few rungs down the ladder.
The Bayern Munich defender is seemingly not happy in Bavaria and will seek a move next summer. He will at that point have just a year left on his deal, but as Robert Lewandowski can attest, that does not mean Bayern will sell on the cheap.
Pavard’s profile as a player aligns more closely with Foyth; capable in attack, assured in defence and a reliable option for any manager.
The price, the potential competition, his salary, the stumbling blocks are multiple and high in this potential deal. There may be one which proves impossible to leap over though: according to Mundo Deportivo, the key condition for his signature is that he plays in central defence. An amalgamation of these factors makes this deal look nearly impossible.
Somewhat off the radar of many Spain, playing outside the big five European leagues, Porro has been quietly building a reputation as one of the best right-backs in Europe.
Luis Enrique’s decision to cap him for Spain and call him up on various occasions is a testament to that. Pacy, attacking and also with experience on the wing, Barcelona will join Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in having been linked to the Sporting CP defender.
Porro spent three years at Manchester City, although mostly on loan, but it goes to show that he has the attributes that both Barcelona and City value at the position. Defensively, he is slightly weaker, but still capable of holding his own.
Once again, the price tag seems like trickiest issue. At just 23, Sporting will be able to demand a significant fee for Porro, somewhere in excess of €30m perhaps. Particularly if any competition are involved, it would put Porro out of Barcelona’s reach. As Relevo point out, Sporting may wish to buy Francisco Trincao outright by using their €10m clause, which could be used as a bargaining chip, but this deal will still be difficult for Barcelona to pull off.
The 19-year-old Girona right-back has been raising eyebrows with his strong performances this season in La Liga. Only last season did he win a starting spot in Segunda under Michel Sanchez, but has taken to Primera like a duck to water.
Intelligent, tidy on the ball and capable of defending one-on-one, Arnau has caused problems for opposition at both ends of the field. Some of his foes have included Real Betis and Vinicius Junior. He also has the advantage of having spent some time at La Masia before moving to Hospitalet and then Girona.
Working against him, is the obvious: he is very inexperienced. Of the options that have been touted, Arnau has the least experience and despite his good performances, is still a raw footballer. As mentioned at the beginning, Barcelona have dealt with cheaper solutions for many years at the position and it is becoming increasingly expensive.
His release clause of €20m would make him the cheapest option on the list, save potentially Dalot and possibly Meunier. That tendency to risk on raw potential and makeshift options, such as Nelson Semedo and Aleix Vidal, perhaps makes this deal more likely. Arnau would not be a guarantee at the position, which is what Xavi Hernandez no doubt wants, but he would be an affordable, calculated risk. Currently, it appears he has as good a chance as any to be the chosen right-back.