Barcelona are still hunting for a right-back. It doesn’t matter at what point you might have read this in the past six years, it remains true. Even when the likes of Nelson Semedo, Hector Bellerin, Sergino Dest, Emerson Royale or Aleix Vidal had just come in, the Blaugrana were waiting to see if they could finally make the role their own.
The Blaugrana have been incapable of finding the answer. Even now, with just the seven goals conceded in La Liga this season and the defence looking as a solid as ever, the makeshift solution has been shifting Jules Kounde to the right-back slot. With three quality central defenders and only veteran Sergi Roberto at right-back, it makes sense for the time being.
While Kounde may be content to play there in the short-term, he has made it clear that his preferred position is in the middle. Going into next season without at least an attempt to fill the role risks the unhappiness of the Frenchman.
It has been reported in the past that the two top targets at Barcelona, at least in Xavi Hernandez’s mind, were Benjamin Pavard or Juan Foyth. The former might be available at a lower price given he is out of contract in 2024, but also prefers playing in central defence. As Robert Lewandowski showed last summer, negotiating with Bayern Munich might be tricky too. Meanwhile Villarreal are unlikely even to negotiate, pointing Barcelona instead to his €42m release clause. At this stage, it looks quite improbable.
Fichajes now say that they have joined the race for Real Valladolid’s Ivan Fresneda. Xavi has seemingly his blessing for a move, with the impressive 18-year-old the apple of many eyes. Newcastle United, Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund were all heavily linked to the Pucelano in January, but none got a deal done.
That competition will likely make a deal tricky, but Barcelona do have things to offer that others may not. With relatively little competition, Fresneda has a clear route to a starting role if he performs. Xavi has also shown that he is content to play youngsters if they prove they deserve the minutes.
Simultaneously, Fresneda can win silverware and play at the top level with Barcelona in the near future, while remaining in his native Spain. Perhaps only Arsenal can offer similar to Fresneda when it comes to persuading the youngster which is the best move to make.
From the Barcelona perspective, Fresneda will likely be cheaper both in terms of salary and fee. Overall, Fresneda might be more of a risk than the other two top targets, given his lack of track record. Still, Barcelona may not be in a position to recruit a proven, quality right-back, and Fresneda works as a signing on every other level.
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