Right back has been a problem position at Barcelona for a fair few years now. Ever since Dani Alves initially left the club in 2016, it is a role that has failed to be commanded by a natural in the position.
Sergi Roberto has largely operated as the club’s right back since Alves’ original departure, despite a number of replacements having been brought in since. Aleix Vidal, Nelson Semedo and Sergino Dest have all been signed in recent years, and all have failed to make their mark at Barcelona. As a result, Roberto, who is naturally a midfielder, has been the mainstay.
Although it is still a problem position this season in terms of natural cover, Barca have been affected by it less, largely due to the excellent performances of Jules Kounde. The Frenchman, signed him Sevilla last summer, has been solid in the role, despite being a natural central defender, and has helped Barca concede just six league goals in 18 appearances so far.
However, Kounde’s long term position at Barcelona is expected to be at centre back, and a natural right back will be required by Xavi. However, many targets have been out of reach in January, due to the club’s financial restrictions, which has seen the likes of Joao Cancelo and Benjamin Pavard be out of reach.
Despite their woes, it does appear that a new right back may be joining. Having lost Hector Bellerin earlier on Tuesday, Barca are looking to replace him with LA Galaxy’s Julian Araujo. Fabrizio Romano confirmed that a deal is close, although later reports from Relevo journalist Toni Juanmarti have revealed that paperwork being submitted late has the deal in danger.
Should the transfer be completed and Araujo does join Barca, he is not likely to be a regular starter initially. However, he has plenty of promise to be one in the future. His statistics are very impressive, in which he is ranked highly in chance creation, specifically when it comes to assists. The Mexican’s xAG lists him up against the top fullbacks in the world.
In terms of defending, he is impressive for an attack-minded fullback. He ranks very well for tackles, clearances and interceptions, which is something that he will only get better at as he continues to improve, especially among some of the best players in world football.
What will impress Barcelona the most is his passing ability. In terms of passes attempted and pass completion, Araujo ranks very highly. He has a good ability to link play between defence and midfield, which is something that Xavi will be looking forward in his fullbacks. Araujo has little problem in moving into midfield and helping his teammates create overloads and openings.
Araujo would be a very shrewd piece of business for Barcelona should they pull it off. His ability to be registered under a Barca Atletic contract allows the club to avoid eating into their salary cap, and the defender would be a valuable squad player in a position where it is needed, especially for a small fee.
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