- La Liga
Barcelona call off search for defender
Reports in Spain suggest that Barcelona have "put the brakes on" moves to sign a new centre-back this summer, as no defender is available with all the attributes needed to be a success at the Camp Nou.
With Barca's new coach Gerardo Martino meeting with sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and president Sandro Rosell on Tuesday morning to finalise their plans for the remainder of the summer transfer window, Mundo Deportivo claimed that the sums being asked by Chelsea for David Luiz (€50 million) and Liverpool for Daniel Agger (€20 million plus) had led to a rethink, as neither player fulfills all of the criteria which the club are looking for.
None of the other names on Zubizarreta's list of potential options - including Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen, Jeremy Mathieu of Valencia and Inigo Martinez of Real Sociedad - are fully convincing either, the Catalan paper maintains.
Barca have famously struggled for many transfer windows to identify and sign defenders who can adapt to the club's unique playing style. Martino himself spoke to reporters during an informal briefing chat during Barca's recent Asian tour about the difficulties of playing at the back for the side - where defenders must all be comfortable in possession and dealing one on one with counter-attacking opponents.
The Argentine coach is reportedly considering the option of beginning the season with Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano as his first choice central defensive pair, and Carles Puyol, 35, and the unproven Marc Bartra, 22, and Frank Bagnack, 18, as back-up. Puyol, who missed all of Barca's pre-season training this summer as he continues to recover from the knee injury which ruined his 2012-13 campaign, is a month or so away from a comeback.
After Barcelona's 3-1 victory over a Malaysia XI on Saturday in Kuala Lumpur, Pique told reporters that the club were well covered in defence already.
"The players who are here now are good enough to defend the team throughout the season," he said.