Barcelona’s interminable search for a right-back will once again ramp up this winter, as they look for a an answer to their problem position.
Ever since defeat at Anfield in 2019, it has been apparent to Barcelona that they are in need of a new right-back. While Sergi Roberto performed well in the role for two seasons after Dani Alves left, he has failed to hit the same heights since. Still a useful back-up in the role, far too often, the Blaugrana have called on him to be their starter.
Flitting between various options, Barcelona are once again spending the build up to a transfer window looking for options in the position.
Hector Bellerin returned home to Barcelona in the summer, but appearing just five times (partly through injury), he has failed to convince the hierarchy that he should remain at the club.
It has led them once again to form a shortlist of options for the position. El Nacional report that Director of Football is considering three options; Villarreal’s Juan Foyth, Manchester United’s Diogo Dalot and Borussia Dortmund’s Thomas Meunier.
The former is supposedly the priority for the club, but his €55m release clause is out of their price range. They hope to be able to bargain down on the price, a tricky matter with a Villarreal that will not be bullied in negotiations. Little has changed in the last three months.
If they cannot sign him, they will turn to one of Dalot or Meunier. The former is currently in negotiations with United and his contract expires next summer. The Red Devils have an option to unilaterally extend his contract though, which again leaves matters somewhat out of Barcelona’s hands, as they do not intend on breaking the bank.
The arguments against signing Meunier have already been made, but chief amongst them are age and price. The Belgian would be a short-term solution.
This list is of course shorter than previous ones have been reported, lacking Pedro Porro of Sporting CP and Girona right-back Arnau Martinez.
Porro would likely be out of their price range too, but Arnau, with a €20m release clause, deserves to be in Barcelona’s thoughts. The drawbacks to his signing are clear; he is young, inexperienced and not the typical winger-come-full-back style that many modern teams require.
That is in part down to the fact that Arnau grew up as a central defender. He made the move to right-back while at Girona and has excelled ever since. Although he may not be as orthodox as many other options, Arnau still gets forward well.
Harking back, Xavi Hernandez’s ideal option last summer was Cesar Azpilicueta. Defensively solid, capable going forward, and intelligent, the Chelsea defender was meant to bring balance to a left side that will presumably get forward more regularly. Azpilicueta gave Xavi the option for a more hybrid system, switching between three and four at the back, something the Catalan manager has tried often.
Looking at the candidates on the list, Arnau fits that brief almost perfectly. Foyth would too, but should he be beyond their means, Arnau makes the most sense thereafter.
Dalot came through at Porto playing in the middle, yet both he and Meunier are closer to wingers than central defenders. While Arnau might not be ideal, it might be signing a potential rather than the finished product, he is the best fit of the three options after Foyth. As such, Barcelona should consider him should no better options present themselves.