Ronald Koeman must be wondering if someone slipped a little something into his drink when he decided to leave his cushty job as Netherlands head coach to become the boss of spiralling Barcelona.
The Catalan giants have slumped to their lowest ebb in recent memory, and with chaos spreading both on the pitch and behind the scenes, it all makes for pretty grim reading if you’re a Blaugrana fan. “So, what could possibly dampen our mood further?” they pondered on Saturday evening.
What about losing to Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone for the first time ever in the league and simultaneously witnessing star centre-back Gerard Pique hobble off the pitch with a possibly season-ending knee injury?
Aye, that’ll do the trick. So, with Frenchman Clement Lenglet the lone survivor of the Barcelona centre-back list, and with the games arriving thick and fast over the winter, Koeman must be scratching his head over his next move. Don’t worry Ron, 90min has got you covered.
Here are 11 foolproof plans for Barça to deploy in the coming weeks to solve their defensive crisis – ranked.
Are we using the Football Manager database to scan young Barcelona B players? Maybe. But Santi Ramos Mingo’s potential star rating tells us he’s literally going to be the best defender of all time in around a decade or so.
Why not get him started early then? Give him the old Theo Walcott treatment, and play him in every game from the age of 19 until he burns out at 25. That’ll do the trick.
Enough of these square pegs in round holes! Where does it say that you have to play at least two centre-backs in the football rule books? It doesn’t! If Koeman wants to make a name for himself, he’d better start looking outside the box.
Lenglet is great, there’s no denying that. So great that he could cover the entire defence by himself? Erm, probably not, but worth checking out, right? That way, you can pack the midfield and play a niche 1-6-3 formation. Just try it out, at least.
Another Barcelona B starlet, except this one was actually sat on the bench for la Blaugrana in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Atleti. Oscar Mingueza is 21 years old, and a couple of Youtube compilations tell us that he is the next Rio Ferdinand-o.
The fact he didn’t come on when Pique picked up his injury hints that Koeman doesn’t think he’s ready, but needs must and all that. Give the boy a chance!
Right, it’s time this man made himself useful. He’s already the least popular man in Leganes, after departing the club for Catalunya last February and leaving them a striker short – simultaneously condemning them to relegation.
So, at least make a fool of yourself and try to play as a centre-back for half a season as penance for your betrayal – and because we’re all a bit bored. Who knows? it worked out for star striker Dion Dublin, who added years onto his career by moving down the pitch and heading balls away for fun. Hmm…Dion…Dublin…
But if you’re looking for a man to fill the Dion Dublin role, why not just get the legend himself?! Since hanging up his boots in 2008, the striker/centre-back has turned his hand to a ‘dube’ (his very own percussion instrument) and then to showing houses on Homes Under The Hammer.
He has found his true calling in life, but he might fancy one last crack at the big time, defending the spacious, luxurious and well-kept grass of Camp Nou. Whether Barça willing be financially capable of paying his BBC buyout clause could become the major sticking point…
I mean, how injured can you really be? Pain is all in the mind, or something…right? So, maybe send a hypnotist down into the dressing room to work on Samuel Umtiti for half an hour or so, and then wheel him out onto the pitch and see how it goes.
The Frenchman is a world class defender when fully fit, so it’s not the worst idea just to put his body on the field to form some kind of barricade in front of the goal. Not the best idea, either, come to think of it. Needs a bit of work.
Asked to be released in February 2020 after suffering a long-term knee injury, which meant Valencia could sign another player in his place. Now surely recovered and without a club, Ezequiel Garay is in need of some minutes.
Sure, he played for enemies Real Madrid, but we can’t be picky now, can we? Saying that, as good as he would be on a free transfer, there may be one option out there which just about trumps the Argentine…
Euro 2016 wasn’t that long ago, right? Only four years ago, Ashley Williams was powering in headers for Wales against Belgium and leading his nation to new heights.
One failed move to Everton, a horrendous loan spell at Stoke City and a season at Bristol City later, the 36-year-old is looking for one last pay day. As it happens, Barça are looking for one short-term defender. Coincidence? We think NOT! Sign him up, lads!
For some reason, la Blaugrana are obsessed with this guy. Eric Garcia has made it clear to Manchester City that he wants to leave Eastlands for Catalonia (who can blame him?) and the Spanish giants are keen to welcome him with open arms.
In truth, he hasn’t genuinely shown himself to have the quality and consistency needed at the highest level, but in truth, Barça aren’t at their highest level either, so beggars can’t be choosers. Play any old Tomás, Ricardo or Enrique at centre-back for the time being, then get your man in January.
So, Lenglet is currently the only fit centre-back at the club. But Ronald Araujo is not far off becoming number two, and walking straight into the team.
Aruajo is highly rated, but extremely raw and untested. Right now though, Barça don’t have much choice. He should be back and playing by the start of December, so wrap the Uruguayan in cotton wool and take great care of him over the coming months. He might just grow into a deserved first-team regular.
Oh, you wanted the most likely option? Yeah, Frenkie De Jong’s going to see some action at centre-back, just like he did earlier this season against Dynamo Kyiv, and earlier in his career at Ajax.
Can’t say much that’s funny about that though, so. There we go.