FC Barcelona will be without one of their best defenders for the foreseeable future after the club announced that Uruguyuan Ronald Araujo would miss time with a hamstring injury.
Araujo, who’s a centre-half by trade has been filling in at right-back as Barcelona work to complete the Joao Cancelo deal, and the urgency surrounding that move has just intensified.
Although he managed to complete 90 minutes against Getafe at the weekend, it’s now been revealed that Araujo suffered an injury to the femoral biceps in the hamstring of his left leg, an injury that tends to take around a month to recover from.
If there was one position where Barca would ill-afford an injury, right-back was it.
Who could potentially replace Araujo against Cadiz on Sunday?
Barcelona are furiously working to sign a right-back in this window with Joao Cancelo the preferred option. But now that Deco has been confirmed as the new Sporting Director, there’s a chance that Valladolid right-back Ivan Fresneda is made a priority.
As was reported weeks ago, Deco has been a strong advocate of the 18-year-old, seeing him as one of the more promising defenders in European football. But Xavi has his doubts as to whether Fresneda is good enough right now to improve the first XI.
Whatever happens in the transfer window, it won’t happen soon enough for a new player to be in position on Sunday.
Central midfielder and first-team captain Sergi Roberto played as a right-back 19 times last season, and while he’s not a natural defender, he should be good enough to see off the threat posed by Cadiz.
Roberto actually played more right back than central midfield last year while scoring four goals and registering an assist in La Liga.
Xavi has promised Kounde that he’ll be used as a central defender, which is his main position. He was outstanding in week one and was one of the higher-rated players in the game, so there may be a reluctance to move him.
However, sometimes you’re forced into making difficult decisions.
Barcelona has more cover in central defence than they do at right-back, and Kounde played there on 21 occasions last year.
This would allow Barcelona to play Eric Garcia alongside Andreas Christensen at the heart of the defence. They could also elect to play Frenkie de Jong there, which would open up space to play Gavi in midfield.
New signing Inigo Martinez started training with the first team today having recovered from injury but having not played a single minute of pre-season football it’s unlikely he’ll be available to start on Sunday, especially as he’s not even registered with La Liga yet.