Less than two weeks before they begin their defense of the Primera Division title, Barcelona are still working to secure the signing of a much-desired and much-needed central defender. The Blaugrana have now begun a tour of Asia and it is unlikely that, even if a player was to be secured imminently, that a new arrival will join up with his new teammates in the Far East, according to Spanish daily Sport.
Having failed to lure Thiago Silva, Chelsea’s David Luiz is thought to be the preferred option both for the club and the fans. Indeed, readers of Madrid-based publication Marca voted strongly in favor of the Brazil international as their preferred central defender ahead of fellow target Daniel Agger. In Britain, the Daily Mail has claimed that Barcelona are set to make a second offer of around £35 million. Despite suggestions that Jose Mourinho is not the biggest fan of the 26-year-old, Chelsea are thought to have set a £45 million valuation.
Reports closer to home assert that it is Liverpool’s Agger who is now the likeliest arrival, however, with Chelsea’s stance likely to prove prohibitive to any deal for David Luiz. Sport believes that negotiations are taking place discreetly. There has been little talk of a move for the Denmark international in England and it is unlikely that Liverpool will be enthused at the thought of losing their most established central defender. The Merseyside club rejected a bid of around £20 million from Manchester City last summer and the 28-year-old subsequently signed a new contract that ties him to the club until 2016. Agger has a strong personality as well as possessing the ability on the ball that makes him an understandable target for Barcelona.
While Cesc Fabregas’s potential departure could yet alter the situation, it is likely that recruiting a central defender will be Barcelona’s only remaining business in the transfer window. However, consideration is still said to be being given to a long-term replacement for Victor Valdes. The experienced goalkeeper has announced that he will not be staying at the Camp Nou beyond the expiration of his contract next year, though it has been agreed that he will not be sold this summer.
Liverpool’s Pepe Reina is widely thought to have been lined up as the man to replace Valdes if he did leave immediately and it is perhaps telling that the former Barcelona man has now gone on a season-long loan to Napoli. But, according to Barcelona-based publication Mundo Deportivo, despite Barcelona having an agreement with Reina, Valdes’ replacement has yet to be decided.
Indeed, the sports daily reports that a new name has come into the mix with recently appointed coach Gerardo Martino keen to take Nahuel Guzman from his former club Newell’s Old Boys. With Valdes’s long-term backup, 37-year-old Jose Manuel Pinto also set to leave the Camp Nou after next season, Barcelona could well be looking for two goalkeepers, potentially to compete for the No. 1 spot. Highly rated Borussia Monchengladbach and Germany international stopper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is also believed to be under consideration.