Connect in the back of the net

Louis van Gaal is set for yet another spending spree at Manchester United, with Barcelona defender Marc Bartra at the top of his shopping list.


Another Barca player heading for exit

When a Barcelona player cannot secure a first team place there is the inevitable clamour for their services, with plenty of well-known clubs seemingly happy to accept the unwanted scraps from football’s highest table.

The latest name to be linked with a move away from the Camp Nou is Marc Bartra – the 24-year-old centre-back from Sant Juame, Catalonia. Since he first stepped up from the B Team in 2010, Bartra has made a total of 51 appearances under four different coaches but has failed to establish himself as a first team regular.

Even when key defenders have been injured, Bartra has been overlooked, with defensive midfielders such as Alex Song and Javier Mascherano often picked ahead of him in the centre-half position.


Puyol could play key role in future

In a twist to the current situation, it has been reported in Spain that former Barca centre-back Carles Puyol has agreed to become Bartra’s official representative. Puyol has recently teamed up with his former agent Ramon Sostres and a couple of friends to form an agency aimed at guiding players through their careers both professionally and financially.

The first players expected to be taken under the wing of the former Barca captain are Bartra and Aymeric Laporte of Athletic Bilbao. As a result, Bartra – who signed a new three-year deal with the Catalan club last year – will end his long-term relationship with respected agent Magico Diaz.

Interestingly, it was Puyol that persuaded the youngster to stay in Barcelona when he was last linked with a move away two years ago. If United want to land the youngster’s signature, they may have to convince his new mentor that it is the right move for the career of a player who is now entering his prime.


Van Gaal keen on central reinforcements

After failing to land Sergio Ramos last summer, United’s Dutch coach is still in the market for an experienced centre-back and Bartra could fit the bill. He became a league regular under coach Tata Martino and was a Champions League stalwart in last year’s treble-winning campaign, but he is still not considered a part of the first-choice XI at the Camp Nou.

He offers strong athletic and physical qualities but is not the quickest player in his position at Barcelona. He can also play at full-back and his versatility may appeal to the United coach.

Thanks to his lack of appearances, his buyout clause has reduced and the Premier League club may be able to land his services for a fee in the region of €12m.


Written by Neil Morris

Follow Neil on Twitter @nmorris01

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