Barça still aren't classing their squad as closed for business and neither are their coaches. They believe that there is room to improve, with a clear priority being the signing of a central defender with international experience who can get involved alongside Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal in January. The main candidate is Monaco's Abdennour, who Barça's staff love, but Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen is also on the cards. Next week will prove decisive for closing the signing.
The technical staff have made it clear to the board that there will be no more signings if the current squad is maintained without any departures. However, the situation has changed, with Pedro set to join Manchester United in a matter of days and Adriano moving closer to Roma. They would both be sensible exits, but they will give the opportunity for Luis Enrique to pick up one or two players. He is prioritising a central defender in order to give some competition to his starting options.
Logic would suggest that they should look for a left-back after the departure of Adriano, but the manager wants to have more central options, in order to play with a back three if required. Due to this, Barça are looking for quick central defenders who can come forward with the ball, in order to compete with Mascherano, Pique, Vermaelen, Bartra and Mathieu. The latter can also play as a left-back, despite it not being his preferred position, but circumstances could force the player to do so despite any discomfort. Everything depends on the final decision of the coaches, but Barça are taking steps to bring in a left-footed central defender during August.
Number one on the list is Tunisia defender Abdennour. Luis Enrique has great reports on the player, who has done well at Monaco. He likes him for his technical ability, his speed, but above all, his character. He is a natural winner and has transformed into one of Monaco's leaders, both on and off the pitch.
Abdennour is on the market. Monaco has already sold one of its most expensive players, Kondogbia to Inter, and wants to negotiate with Barça. His price tag is 25 million euros, but the Blaugrana are convinced that the deal can be done for less. The footballer himself has expressed his desire to play for Barça and is waiting for the deal to complete his dream.
The reality is that negotiations with Abdennour are on the table and there is no problem with paying for his signature. Barça know the conditions and favourable ways to close the deal, but the club will not speak with Monaco until next week, when everything becomes clear with Pedro's transfer. They will then have the funds available and the possibility of doing business. The player's agents, who have travelled this week to Barcelona, want to keep pressing forward with the operation, but they aren't pressuring Barça. There is no point, as the situation is clear.
Barça have also looked into Tottenham's central defender Vertonghen. If they want a more uesful player, he can already play at left-back. The Belgian has also been on the club's list of targets in the past, but the Blaugrana pulled out of signing him as the English club were poor to negotiate with. Tottenham have no need to sell and would have problems with the player leaving. The option remains as he is a safe bet and is able to develop further. His international experience is important, despite him not having playing in the Champions League.
Next week will be decisive in completing Barça's squad, although players must first leave for agreeable fees. Barcelona do not want to sell Pedro for less than 30 million euros, and Adriano should go for a fee of more than six million. In this case, the club would aim for Abdennour and try to get it done quickly.
If Luis Enrique gets his man, Barça would have a new option at centre-back and would not allow any further players to leave ahead of January. The coach is weighing up the performances of players in order to take final decisions on possible departures, and furthermore, it has to be seen how Vermaelen fares physically during the coming months. The arrival of a central defender would make a lot of sense from a sporting perspective.