Barcelona have added Liverpool’s Joel Matip, Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger and Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi to their list of defensive targets, according to reports.
Ronald Koeman is keen to sign another defender when the transfer window opens in January. Barcelona’s main target is to take Eric Garcia back from Manchester City.
Garcia previously came through the youth ranks at Barcelona, before joining Man City in 2017. His contract expires at the end of the season, and he intends to return to his hometown club.
Recent reports have suggested that Barcelona have a deal in place for Garcia to return in 2021. That came after other sources had cast doubt on the idea that a deal is close.
For example, one report recently hinted that Real Madrid could pose a threat to their rivals’ bid for Garcia. Real are looking for a long-term replacement for Sergio Ramos, whose contract also expires in 2021.
But now Barcelona appear to be closing in on the signing of Garcia. However, it seems likely they will have to wait until he is a free agent in the summer.
With that in mind, they have drawn up a list of potential short-term reinforcements for January. According to Sport, Barcelona want a cheap addition on loan.
There are five options to fill the role – and three come from the Premier League. Matip, Rudiger and Mustafi are on their radar.
The link with Matip seems peculiar, given that Liverpool are dealing with long-term injuries to their only other senior centre-backs, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez. Hence, the report admits that Liverpool are unlikely to answer any calls for Matip.
However, they may have a chance of taking Mustafi or Rudiger. Neither player is getting as much gametime as they would like at their respective London clubs.
Mustafi has just 44 minutes of Premier League action under his belt for Arsenal this season, after coming back from an injury. He has started two games in the Europa League.
Meanwhile, Rudiger was close to leaving Chelsea in the summer after falling down the pecking order. He has since worked his way back into contention somewhat, playing twice in the Champions League, but is still yet to feature in the Premier League this term.
Therefore, Rudiger could be on the market again when January comes. Sport remind that Barcelona were a contender for him late in the summer, and they could revive their interest.
Rudiger is reportedly keen on the move, and Chelsea are open to letting him leave.
Mustafi and Serie A trio the alternatives
If that deal cannot go through, though, then Barca will turn their attention to Mustafi. They are especially keen because he has experience in La Liga already, after spending time with Valencia before joining Arsenal.
With his contract also expiring at the end of the season and a new deal unlikely, the Gunners could sell him for a low fee in the winter.
Barcelona have three further alternatives, all of whom also have experience in Spain. The Serie A trio of Fiorentina’s German Pezzella, Roma’s Federico Fazio and Milan’s Mateo Musacchio have all played in La Liga before, are all experienced and would likely not cost much.
The most expensive of the trio would be Pezzella, who like Rudiger was a target for Barca in the summer. However, a deal did not go through because Fiorentina were asking for €15m.
Barca are not prepared to pay any fee for their new target in January, instead insisting that any centre-back who arrives will simply be a stop-gap measure until they take Garcia in the summer.
Alternatively, they could lure the Man City starlet in January, but that seems unlikely. Therefore, they will offer a short-term deal to someone with experience instead.