Barcelona’s scouring of European football for the solution to their right-back position continues, and if they are to use the World Cup as a scouting opportunity, one option stands out.
Looking at the final four of the tournament, Barcelona already have France’s makeshift right-back in Jules Kounde, while Nahuel Molina or Achraf Hakimi would be out of their price range. They may well be able to afford a deal for Croatia’s Josip Juranovic if they can free up some space in their salary limit.
After recent reports that Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad were interested in the Celtic defender, Todofichajes say Barcelona may attempt to muscle out the other two. They would look for a loan deal with an option to buy for €10m.
How does Juranovic match up to the other options that Barcelona have been evaluating though?
His superb performances at the World Cup prove that he can cut it against the top opposition. Although is not perfect defensively, he dealt well with Brazil in the first match.
Going forward, he is used to streaming down the right for Ange Postecoglou’s dynamic Celtic side. Capable of playing on the left too, Juranovic’s pace stands out and he is a capable passer too.
At 27, and a potential price of €10m, a deal for Juranovic makes sense on paper. Where doubts may linger are whether he can make the step up from the Scottish game to facing the likes of Vinicius Junior more regularly. Equally, it does seem remarkably cheap given the teams being linked with him.
For Croatia he looked solid against Brazil and did well against Argentina, but Croatia were content to play more conservatively in those matches. For Barcelona, he would be asked to play in a higher line and a more open team – which he does for Celtic, but the Bhoys struggled in the Champions League.
Compared to some of the other names on Barcelona’s shortlist, Juranovic can feel good about what he brings to the table.
Diogo Dalot looks to be off the cards due to his contract situation. Meanwhile Borussia Dortmund seem reluctant to sell Thomas Meunier. The Belgian is several years older, more expensive and at this point does not bring much more to the table other than power and experience.
Villarreal’s Juan Foyth likely remains the ideal choice. Capable of tucking in as a third central defender, robust, strong in the tackle and good on the ball, Foyth ticks many of Barcelona’s boxes. However he is likely to be prohibitively expensive for the Blaugrana. Juranovic does at least have pace and attacking prowess over Foyth, although he cannot claim the same defensive solidity.
The other name that has been mentioned is Arnau Martinez of Girona. A promising 19-year-old, Arnau is good on the ball, intelligent and strong if not as quick. He shares a lot of attributes with last summer’s top target Cesar Azpilicueta. Even though his €20m release clause would represent value, but it is perhaps still too pricey for Barcelona.
Juranovic is a different profile and would give Barcelona more width, pace and experience than Arnau. The latter has the advantage of being schooled in the Barcelona method at La Masia too.
Compared to these options, Juranovic’s price no doubt makes him a standout in that category. Arnau and Foyth are better defensively than the Croatian, but he can provide far more threat.
As tends to be the case more recently for Barcelona, the price can be decisive though. He might not have the potential of Arnau, the profile of Foyth or the experience of Meunier, but he does provide a nice middle ground between the other options.