Barcelona targeting Aymen Abdennour, Jan Vertonghen for centre-back spot


Barcelona targeting Aymen Abdennour, Jan Vertonghen for centre-back spot

Barcelona may have a transfer ban to contend with but that isn't preventing Luis Enrique from planning for January when his new recruits can finally take to the field.

Reports are surfacing through Sport that the club are looking to sign a new central defender this week. The reported targets are Aymen Abdennour of Monaco and Tottenham Hotspur's Jan Vertonghen.

It is unlikely that the club will sign both targets but even just one would leave Luis Enrique’s side with six centre-backs of proven pedigree. Barcelona has a long season ahead and the squad will inevitably have to cope with various suspensions and injuries as the fixtures mount up.

But is six players fighting for essentially two positions asking too much when it comes to keeping players happy? The club is already seen to be particularly well equipped in that department given the options already at Enrique’s disposal.


Gerard Pique returned to his very best last season, culminating in a fine performance in the Champions League final victory over Juventus. The 28-year-old Catalan has also found his goalscoring touch, ending as the club's fifth highest scorer with seven goals last term. The Spanish international would seem to be a first choice for Enrique.

Javier Mascherano is also one of the first names on Enrique's team sheet having slipped seamlessly into the centre back role first handed to him by Pep Guardiola. One feels that the Argentine will not be lining up at centre back is if he has to cover one of the midfield positions.

Frenchman Jeremy Mathieu had a slow start to his career at the Camp Nou but grew into his role as the season went on and the versatility he possesses marks him out as a valuable squad member. Mathieu is primarily a central defender but can also play on the left if and when required.

Then there is La Masia graduate Marc Bartra who is surely a player Catalans would love to see established as an established starter at some stage in the future. At the age of 24, Bartra has made 79 appearances but has struggled to hold down a regular first team place. The good news for Bartra and his supporters is that he still has time on his side.

Barcelona targeting Aymen Abdennour, Jan Vertonghen for centre-back spot

Finally, there is last season's forgotten man Thomas Vermaelen. The former Arsenal skipper didn't make his debut until May after an injury wrecked campaign. Is he good enough to force his way into the first team? The Belgian struggled to hold down a place at The Emirates towards the end of his time in North London so it would be no surprise to see the29-year-old spend yet more time on the Camp Nou bench over the course of the season.

So what can potential new signings Jan Vertonghen or Aymen Abdennour bring to the squad should they arrive in Catalonia?


Tunisian international Abdennour is reportedly the club's first choice and has impressed many with his performances since joining Monaco in 2014 from Toulouse. The 25-year-old has roused the interest of a host of the Europe's biggest clubs but Abdennour has made no secret of his desire to play his football at the Camp Nou.

Abdennour has great pace, possesses fine technical ability and has leadership qualities that can only have a good effect on the team. The only slight question mark over the Tunisian international has been over his discipline but the positives far outweigh the negatives should a deal be made.

Barcelona targeting Aymen Abdennour, Jan Vertonghen for centre-back spot

Vertonghen, 28, would appear to be a backup choice should a deal for Abdennour not materialise. Since joining Tottenham in 2012, the Belgian has proved himself to be a reliable and talented performer. The Belgian has all the typical centre-back qualities. He is strong, a fine tackler and has a great aerial ability. The Belgian has been accused of being a little too laid-back at times but displays great composure when in possession.

So as with all positions in this Barca side there is intense competition when it comes to breaking into the starting eleven at centre back. It's possible Enrique has a plan in mind to play with three at the back if he feels they need a different approach to certain fixtures.

Should Abdennour or Vertonghen arrive at the Camp Nou, Enrique will have a plethora of options to choose from when he has a full squad to pick from in January. Anybody who does get their chance will not be afforded a settling in period and will need to play to the best of their abilities immediately- and that’s the way it should be at a club of Barcelona’s stature.

Published by Aaron Attwood, columnist at Barcablog. Follow him on Twitter @ajattwood

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Javier Mascherano should ignore Juventus' interest and remain in Barcelona

Javier Mascherano should ignore Juventus' interest and remain in Barcelona

Javier Mascherano has been identified as a transfer target by Italian champions Juventus following Sami Khedira's long-term injury and the departure of both Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich) and Andrea Pirlo (New York City)

Reports coming from Italy suggest that Mascherano "wants to finish his career in Italy after having spells in the Premier League and La Liga" and would be willing to move away from the Camp Nou during the current transfer window.


Sorry to burst your bubble, Juventus, but you must be dreaming if you think that Barcelona would even be remotely interested on letting such an important player leave for less than the amount they paid for Alex Song a couple of summers ago -- or for any amount, for that matter.

Mascherano has become an indispensable regular at the Camp Nou since signing for the Catalans back in 2010. Whether deployed in his preferred position as a holding midfielder or at the heart of the back-line, the Argentina international has always made a positive impact thanks to his contagious enthusiasm, endless energy and unique understanding of the game.

Javier Mascherano should ignore Juventus' interest and remain in Barcelona

Juventus may very well be researching the market for a quality midfielder so that they can challenge for the European treble this season but they are certainly wasting their time if they have identified Mascherano as a transfer target.

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Luis Suarez isolated and Barcelona defenders struggle in mediocre preseason

Luis Suarez isolated and Barcelona defenders struggle in mediocre preseason

Barcelona were defeated by Fiorentina 2-1 (watch goals and highlights here) in their third match of the International Champions Cup at the weekend. Luis Suarez scored the Blaugrana's only goal, despite La Liga's champions attempting 13 shots with eight on target.

Luis Enrique cannot be too impressed after leading his team to only one victory in four matches. Although results don't matter in preseason, conceding an average of two goals per match is never a good sign.

Barcelona based their success last term on their effectiveness up front and their ability to contain their opponents whenever they found a way to break on the counter. The mediocre results during the summer break are the direct result of lacking in two crucial aspects.

Luis Suarez isolated and Barcelona defenders struggle in mediocre preseason

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Fiorentina 2-1 Barcelona | All Goals and Highlights, Report, Ratings

Fiorentina 2-1 Barcelona | All Goals and Highlights, Report, Ratings

Barcelona were defeated by Fiorentina 2-1 in their third match of the International Champions Cup. Luis Suarez scored the only goal for the Blaugrana, who enjoyed 70 percent of possession, created 20 goal-scoring chances and attempted 13 shots, eight of them on target.

Previous Record vs Fiorentina:


Player Ratings:

Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen (6) - S.Roberto (7), Pique (6), Vermaelen (6), Alba (6) - Rakitic (6) Busquets (7), Iniesta (6) - Rafinha (5), Suarez (7), Pedro (7)

Substitutes: Masip (n/a); Bartra (5), Munir (6); Gumbau (n/a), Sandro (6)

Match Stats:


Goals and Highlights:


Reaction:



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Andres Iniesta under threat of losing place in Barcelona XI

Andres Iniesta under threat of losing place in Barcelona XI

Andres Iniesta is, for the first time in nearly a decade, under a real threat of losing his spot in Barcelona's starting XI. Despite being one of the most successful players in the Catalans' over 115 years of history, the truth is that past achievements count for nothing in the ever-changing world of modern football.

Considering Ivan Rakitic's incredible impact in first season at the Camp Nou, many expect the Croatian international to retain his place in Luis Enrique's preferred lineup. With that in mind, captain Iniesta will face fierce competition from former Atletico Madrid star Arda Turan, the much-improved Rafinha and even the emerging Sergi Roberto for the second interior spot.


Already 31 years of age, it is clear Iniesta will find it increasingly hard to compete with upcoming youngsters as time goes by. Having said that, it is also true that his game was never based on impeccable physicality in the first place, with skill, clever movement and exquisite technique always giving him the edge over rivals.

Far from obsessing over his upcoming challenges at personal level, Iniesta continues to use every opportunity to praise his teammates and, as always, keep a low personal profile:

"Lionel Messi and I have experienced all sorts of situations together and we know each other so well. We have lived alongside one another for such a long time. And to have experienced what we have together is to be very happy.

Andres Iniesta under threat of losing place in Barcelona XI

"The truth is that it is a privilege to play with him. I cannot say much more than that. Leo has always been unique for me and hopefully I get to play with him for a lot longer. That's what matters."

"Because of the times in which we live, when things go wrong, it's very difficult to cope. When you have harmony, it is much easier. Now that we are enjoying such a moment, we must seize it."

What a legend. Iniesta could have easily chosen to blow his own trumpet in front of the world's media and even taken advantage of his position as club captain to publicly demand more minutes for the season ahead.

Andres Iniesta under threat of losing place in Barcelona XI

Not Don Andres -- a true example of how the values youngsters learn at La Masia can influence not only the careers, but also the personalities of those privileged few who have the chance of developing at Barcelona's famous youth academy.

Whether such an admirable attitude can secure a place in Luis Enrique's lineup once crucial matches are to be played in the coming season remains to be seen, however.

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Luis Suarez will continue to excel alongside Lionel Messi at Barcelona


Luis Suarez changed the dynamics of Luis Enrique's Barcelona. After landing at the Camp Nou for a record €81 million, many doubted the Uruguay international could ever justify his unprecedentedly high price-tag.

However, it took less than a whole season for Cules to realise that Barca had only signed a great forward, but arguably the best striker in over 115 years of history. 

With 25 goals in his first 43 appearance for the Catalans, we can safely say that Suarez was the spark that ignited Luis Enrique's attacking line. Sure, Lionel Messi and Neymar were already part of the team before his arrival, but having the Liverpool's Golden Boot winner as a central attacking reference enabled his Argentina teammate the freedom to move into less congested areas on the pitch, often starting his runs from the right wing.

Luis Suarez showed his determined yet humble attitude when sitting down with ESPN to discuss the season ahead:


"One always tries to accept praise and the things fans say, but I don't consider myself the most humble nor one of the best. I just try and do my work the best I can. I'm in the best team in the world and doing things I never imagined doing, but that job I leave to the rest so they can give their opinion."

"You're in Barcelona and you have Leo and Neymar by your side so you have to be one of the best," he said. "I have the privilege to play with those quality players, just as much them as the whole team, including Andres Iniesta, which was a dream for me to play by his side, with players that I enjoy playing alongside."


"Being on the best team in the world fills you with pride, leaves you calm, shows you how hard it is to get here. And that's why you have to enjoy the moment once you're here."

"I have been through many difficult and complicated moments, but I also have to say that I have a great mental capacity to overcome these adversities, and I believe that's a great quality to be able to go through everything I've been through and try to overcome that and still have people remember you by your goals, and that brings me a lot of happiness."


"And now everything is different than last year but with more motivation because we are in Barcelona and we have to go out and try and win everything. But we also know that this year we have another opportunity to keep making history, whether it's by repeating the 'sextuple' or by retaining the Champions League. They're objectives that we want to try and complete as the season goes on."


Luis Suarez was instrumental in the 2014/15 season and, if Barcelona managed to conquer the Champions League, Liga and Copa del Rey treble in his first year at the Camp Nou, the No.9's influence was crucial.

Considering his impeccable attitude both on and off the pitch, his undeniable status as one of the world's best forwards and the way in which he has adapted to his Barcelona teammates, there is reason to believe Luis Suarez will continue excelling alongside Lionel Messi at Barcelona for years to come.

Looking forward to more and even better, Luis!

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