Gerardo Martino has had to get used to repeated questions about his altering of Barcelona’s famed tiki-taka style in his first months in charge at the Camp Nou. While some of the talk has been hyperbolic and Martino’s changes have been more about evolution than revolution, it was no freak that Barcelona had less possession that their opponents for the first time in five years against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
The variation in the team’s tactics is sure to take time to be fully implemented and it may be that Martino decides he also needs to adjust his squad in order to fulfill his plans. Indeed, Barcelona have been linked to a player that would provide a more direct option up front in Fernando Torres. The Spain international has started just one match since the return of Jose Mourinho and Barcelona-based publication Sport claims that the Catalans are keeping a check on his situation and are interested in bringing him to the Camp Nou.
Torres enjoyed the best spell of his career at Liverpool when he was given direct service, something which Martino could in theory be intrigued by. Yet, it is not only the different tactics at Chelsea that have been responsible for the shocking disappearance of his previous talents in recent years. Given that Torres is also on huge wages at Chelsea, it remains difficult to imagine Barcelona genuinely seeing him as a player that would be worth bringing to the club.
Sport also believes that Barcelona are keen on another Chelsea player, whose exile from the side has been even more dramatic under Mourinho. Juan Mata, a part of Spain’s triumphant squads at the World Cup in 2010 and European Championship last year, would likely have no problem fitting in among Barcelona’s technically gifted side. However, part of the reason that it is believed that Mourinho has taken against him is because of his lack of work without the ball. That would surely prove a problem in a Barcelona side that focuses heavily on pressing and winning back possession as quickly as possible.
One position that Barcelona will have to tend to in the coming months is that of goalkeeper. Victor Valdes has had an outstanding start to the season, but has reiterated that he will not be going back on his decision to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the current campaign.
Mundo Deportivo believes that a meeting has been scheduled for late October or early November when the final decision will be taken on who will replace Valdes. It is thought that both Pepe Reina and Germany international Marc-Andre ter Stegen were approached this summer when it was thought that Valdes may leave a year before the end of his deal.
While Reina has now gone on a seasons loan to Napoli, both he and Ter Stegen are said to remain on the club’s radar. However, Martino also has his own ideas about targets. Indeed, it is thought that he is keen on his former goalkeeper at Newell’s Old Boys, Nahuel Guzman. Barcelona reportedly sent a representative to check on the 27-year-old during Newell’s match with Boca Juniors last month.