Spanish newspaper Marca has revealed that Jérôme Boateng has emerged as FC Barcelona’s number one target to improve their defense. The Bayern Munich defender is seen as an ideal replacement for retired captain Carles Puyol. The Catalan club has already signed French defender Jeremy Mathieu from Valencia, but it is believed that manager Luis Enrique is seeking extra reinforcements at the back.
Boateng, who won the World Cup with Germany this summer, has become a particularly desirable addition, given his ability to be deployed in both central defense and at right back. With the future of Barcelona fullback, Dani Alves, in serious doubt, Boateng serves as a two-for-one signing that would be able to plug multiple holes. In addition to his versatility, the former Manchester City man would bring quality and experience to Barça’s defense – characteristics that have been lacking in their defenders beyond Gerard Piqué and Javier Mascherano.
In addition to being a world champion. Boateng won the Champions League in 2013 in addition to a pair of Bundesliga titles. Last season, he was managed by former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, and would find a familiar tactical setup in Catalonia.
Guardiola has stated that he is not aware of any media rumours, and said Boateng is “100%” a part of his plans. A standard response, considering the negotiations are just starting.
The 25-year-old became Barcelona’s first choice after the club failed to secure Thiago Silva and, more recently, Marquinhos from French champions Paris Saint-Germain. Marquinhos was originally thought to be Luis Enrique’s ideal option, but with PSG unwilling to sell the 20-year-old defender, Boateng has surfaced as the next best choice.
Elsewhere, rumors have continued to surface that Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen is also being pursued by Barcelona to fill the void in the heart of the Blaugrana’s defense. With less than a year remaining on his contract with the Gunners, it is believed that a €12.5 million offer would see him leave North London. But with the left-footed Vermaelen unable to double as a right back, and Fiorentina demanding €50 million for Barcelona target Juan Cuadrado, Boateng remains the most likely candidate to fill both positions.