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Barcelona, the Spanish heavyweights, had a disappointing campaign in La Liga as well as Champions League as Real Madrid clinched both the silverwares. Luis Enrique stepped down as Barca boss and former Athletic Bilbao gaffer Ernesto Valverde has been appointed in order to restore their pride defying Real’s dominance.
The Catalans, however, still need to make reinforcements and must reconstruct their back-line that has troubled them repeatedly in recent past. We have scouted three such resources who might help them reclaiming their league glory as well as end Los Blancos’ Champions League supremacy.
The Spaniard has reiterated his contentment with Premier League champions Chelsea, however, the 27-year old versatile defender might still be lured to make a switch to his homeland for the upcoming campaign. Azpilicueta, an Osasuna academy star, joined the Blues back in August 2012 for a £7 million switch from French outfit Marseille. Although predominantly a right-back, the Spaniard has been exploited as centre-back, left-back, also as a wing-back and adopted in several formations that made him a regular starter for the Londoners. He has won the league twice and holds enough experience of European football. Azpilicueta has represented his country in several youth ranks before breaking into the senior side four years back. He can certainly improve Barcelona’s defensive vulnerability and is capable of replacing both the fullbacks, particularly Jordi Alba, who had a rough spell in his usual left-back position.
The Frenchman is one of the highly rated La Liga stars who has flourished to become a top-notch centre-back under Ernesto Valverde during his tenure as Athletic Bilbao gaffer. Laporte, 23, has been a regular since past four campaigns and extended his contract last year that runs out in 2020, with buyout clause rising to an initial €65 million. Laporte has represented his nation in several youth ranks but yet to be capped for their senior side. He is aerially strong and hailed for his marking, intercepting and tackling skills. Laporte has previously been monitored by a host of European heavyweights, but Bilbao, being known as a tough negotiator, managed to retain their top resource. However, Valverde’s influence might convince him and his current employers to join the Catalans drawing to an end of his Los Leones career.
The Italian sensation of French heavyweight Paris St.-Germain has been heavily linked to a move to the Catalan giants in this transfer window. The 24-year old Azzurri international is known for his dribbling skills, close ball control and playmaking traits from the middle of the park. he is quick, agile and acknowledged for his passing and intercepting attributes.
The €35 million (plus €20 million in add-ons) transfer of Portuguese playmaker Andre Gomes went wrong for Barcelona last summer as the ex-Valencia midfielder struggled to settle in and failed to impress. Verratti, on the other hand, is already a well-established name in European circuit and probably a risk worth taking.
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