Barcelona general director and international adviser Ariedo Braida has admitted that the European champions are not yet the perfect side, and can still improve at the back.
“We definitely need a defender,” Braida admitted, speaking to Premium Sport [via Sport Mediaset‘s website], “particularly given the age of the department.”
Ostensibly, Braida’s comments appear somewhat surprising, as Barcelona’s defence does not appear to be a point of weakness.
The Catalan giants won last year’s Champions League using largely the same squad as they have this year, and are currently on course for another hugely successful campaign.
As well as winning the Club World Cup, Luis Enrique’s side currently sit atop La Liga—and are a whopping eight points ahead of second-place Atletico Madrid, and a further four ahead of fierce rivals Real Madrid.
Admittedly, their defensive record is not as good as that of Atleti, who they will face in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. However, while Diego Simeone’s side can boast of a freakishly watertight backline that’s conceded only 12 goals in 29 league games—and only one in their last eight matches—Barca still have the second best defensive record in the division.
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However, there is some substance to Braida’s concern that the defence is an ageing unit, with Thomas Vermaelen, Javier Mascherano, Dani Alves and Jeremy Mathieu all the wrong side of 30.