FC Barcelona

Defensive midfielders Barcelona could look to sign in the summer

Max Parsons
May 12, 2021, 3:30 PM GMT+1
Camavinga is among the options for Barcelona
Camavinga is among the options for Barcelona / John Berry/Getty Images

There's no doubt that it's been a season of transition for the mighty Barcelona. But, of course, that doesn't explain away the disappointment of passing up the opportunity to get a grip on what is proving to be a thrilling La Liga title race.

Having said that, while the league title would be nice, it is stability that the club really need - stability and (especially) off the pitch more than anything.

La Blaugrana look for too capable of capitulating midway through any match, and their pursuit of La Liga success this campaign has proved that. Part of the problem is a defensive midfielder who simply doesn't have the legs to cope with effective counter attacks on his own, match after match.

Sergio Busquets
Sergio Busquets after Barcelona's 3-3 draw at Levante / Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Sergio Busquets evidently requires a fellow holding midfielder to come through those doors in the summer. Either to play alongside him, or to take the weight off his shoulders when it gets too much and eventually take the reins as Barça's anchor.

Ilaix Moriba has been touted as a potential heir but, at this moment in time, the teenager seems too inexperienced and attack-minded to succeed Busquets.

So, who could do it? Well, let 90min run you through some options...

1. Denis Zakaria

Denis Zakaria
Denis Zakaria in action against Hoffenheim / Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Borussia Monchengladbach's Denis Zakaria is linked with a move away from the Bundesliga this summer, with Arsenal a potential destination.

But Barcelona would naturally be a more mouth-watering move for the Switzerland international and he would compliment Busquets to perfection, stifling the counter attacks that the Spaniard fails to with his quick, powerful and combative style.

2. Eduardo Camavinga

Eduardo Camavinga
Eduardo Camavinga has made a splash at both club and international level / John Berry/Getty Images

What makes this move hard to picture is simply the financial aspect. Rennes would undoubtedly seek a large fee for one of the brightest starlets on the planet and, simply put, Barcelona are not exactly rolling in it at the moment.

But Eduardo Camavinga is talented - very bloody talented. Able to play all over midfield, the 18-year old reads the game beyond his years, allowing him to position himself and use his body incredibly well.

The Frenchman also made his full debut for his nation at 17, scoring a bicycle kick against Ukraine - star.

3. Mikel Merino

Mikel Merino
Mikel Merino won the postponed 2020 Copa del Rey final with Real Sociedad / Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Who would have though that, when Mikel Merino was lining up for Newcastle in 2018, we'd be calling him a standout performer in La Liga just three years later? No, me neither. But here we are.

With great awareness, passing ability, pressing capacity and age on his side, Merino would fit Barcelona well.

And with Busquets alongside him, he'd no doubt flourish in the colours of La Blaugrana.

4. Douglas Luiz

douglas luiz
Douglas Luiz has established himself in the Premier League / Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Having been on the books at Manchester City when he was younger, things could have panned out a lot worse for Douglas Luiz when a lack of game time forced him out.

But the 23-year old found a home at Aston Villa and has thrived. The Brazilian enjoyed a good debut season in 2019/20, and has cemented himself as a top-class defensive midfielder this campaign with a tough, no-nonsense approach to screening his back four.

A lot of top clubs will be after him sooner rather than later, and Barça should be no exception.

5. Boubacar Kamara

Lille OSC v Olympique de Marseille - Ligue 1 Uber Eats
Boubacar Kamara has represented France at every youth level / Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

Boubacar Kamara is yet another special young talent rising through the ranks in France, and has been linked to a number of Europe's biggest clubs.

The 21-year old has been a regular for Marseille since the start of the 2018/19 campaign and has gathered a lot of attention for being a silky smooth, positionally aware, ball-playing defensive midfielder with the ability to break up play.

Hmmm, that sounds familiar...

6. Leandro Paredes

Leandro Paredes
Leandro Paredes is a stalwart for PSG / Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

In a Paris Saint-Germain team renowned for its dazzling individuals, Leandro Paredes is a no nonsense, destroyer in the middle of the field.

He may not be a name to light up the world but the Argentine gives everything for his side and his passion is undeniable, which has allowed him to become an stalwart in the PSG squad.

At 26, he isn't quite as young as the other options on this list, but he's definitely got a fair few years at the top left.

7. Ismael Bennacer

Ismael Bennacer
Ismael Bennacer is key for AC Milan / Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Just look what happens when Arsenal let go of their young players...

Ismael Bennacer was allowed to leave the Gunners in 2017 and has since established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in Serie A.

The 23-year old has been a crucial cog at AC Milan since his arrival in 2019 and was integral to the club's (albeit short-lived) title charge this season.

A dynamic, tenacious and dogged midfielder with the ability to effectively use the ball, Bennacer is highly regarded all around Europe. And he should be looked at intently by Barcelona in their quest to find Busquets' heir.