Marc Bartra is the solution for Barcelona's injury crisis

Depth was a problem before Rafinha’s horrific injury and will continue to be until Barcelona can fully reinforce the bench the way they would like in January. At present, the depth in the midfield seems awful shallow.

The likes of Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic, Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets will most likely make up the three starters as the fourth rotates in, potentially changing the formation with Mascherano and Busquets lying farther back from the attack. This kind of quality is not the issue of course. The issue will come in May when players have run out of gas. 

Competition can bring the best out of players, but having quality to replace injured quality is just as valuable a reason to have proper squad depth.

Barcelona currently look to have a roster with few solutions if another essential player were to go down, and a reasonable solution has been La Masia. Nevertheless, the answer seems to be the La Masia graduates currently sitting on the bench. 

Sergi Roberto has rewarded Luis Enrique’s faith by starting three consecutive games for the first time in his career at right-back, a position he was never expected to play coming into this season. It seems it’s said every season, but now is the time more than ever for the coaching staff to put their faith in Marc Bartra.

The 24-year-old defender has so far played 27 minutes in La Liga this season, coming on as a substitute against Athletic Bilbao. His only other appearances this campaign came as a starter in the 4-0 Super Cup loss to Athletic and as a substitute three days later in the second leg. 

Bartra has been in a position where coaches do not have much faith in him before. Tito Vilanova trusted him with 16 appearances and Luis Enrique awarded him 25 last season. His career high came two years ago under Gerardo Martino when he made 30 appearances across all competitions. 

One could argue that Gerard Pique’s terrific form last year blocked Bartra’s path. Sadly, public perception only remembers the poor moments. Gareth Bale’s run against Bartra in El Clasico was a highlight of Real Madrid’s season two years ago, but the good form that got him into that contest is quickly forgotten. Need proof? Jerome Boateng is considered one of the best defenders in the world, yet the lasting image of Bayern Munich’s Champions League campaign (other than the comeback against Porto), came at the feet of Lionel Messi.

Putting faith in Marc Bartra now could pay dividends later in the season and give Luis Enrique and company a few options. While it may not be advisable to move Sergi Roberto from a spot where he is excelling, an option could be to try out Bartra at right-back (a position he has played before) to give an in-form Sergi Roberto the occasional start in midfield. This would give Iniesta, Rakitic and Busquets the proper rest they may have had with Rafinha’s cover. 

The more realistic option however is that Bartra adds depth to Pique and Thomas Vermaelen. During Pique’s suspension and Vermaelen’s most recent injury, Jeremy Mathieu and Javier Mascherano have been the options in the back. Now with Mascherano needing to provide cover in midfield and the left-footed Matheiu able to occupy the two left spots along the backline, having another right-footed defender to trust becomes essential for squad rotation and could keep players fresh for the stretch run.

Bartra is a high-quality solution for Barcelona's alarming lack of depth which Luis Enrique should not waste for a further second.