Barcelona officials are expected to meet to discuss whether the club needs to pursue a January replacement for defender Gerard Pique, who is set for an extended spell on the sidelines after damaging knee ligaments against Atletico Madrid over the weekend.
Ronald Araujo has already joined the first-team on a full-time basis from Barcelona B this season, but the squad remains thin on central defensive options.
That is now badly worsened by Pique’s anticipated absence for the next three to five months, with Araujo, Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet the only recognised centre backs in the senior ranks.
To make matters worse, it has been reported by local media outlets that Umtiti, who is yet to play this season because of ongoing fitness trouble, doesn’t have it in him to play more than two or three games in a row before breaking down again.
In the short-term at least, Oscar Mingueza has been tipped to be promoted from Barcelona B to provide additional cover for upcoming games.
A January signing to cover the lengthy absence of 18-year-old Ansu Fati is considered less likely owing to the alternative options that exist in the squad. But Marca reports that the situation at the back is much more desperate and a meeting between Barça officials will take place in the coming days to decide if the club is going to enter the transfer market this winter.
The biggest obstacle to any January buy is money. Barcelona didn’t have the liquid funds in summer to go after Manchester City centre back Eric Garcia, while presidential candidate Victor Font last week labelled the current financial situation at Camp Nou as ‘critical’.
As a result of significantly reduced income brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Barça have already had to ask existing players to take another major pay cut because of a huge fall in the club’s level of salary expenditure permitted by La Liga.
Marca also notes a second difficulty, with no major spending permitted under the interim regime until a new president has been elected and taken office. A deal could be pre-arranged, but the new president would have to endorse and quickly sign if off after the 24 January election.
The time-frame potentially gives Barça just a week to get a transfer over the line.