We’re not even in January yet, but the Catalans have already completed their first signing of the winter transfer market.
The Catalans are seriously short on centre-back options due to injuries to Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen. And the club has signed Valencia defender Jeison Murillo on loan to fill in the void. The Columbian will be at Barcelona for a six-month loan spell with a purchase option for €25m.
First winter signing:
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 20, 2018
World Cup winner Samuel Umtiti is out with a knee injury and is in rehab at Doha. The Frenchman’s availability for the rest of the season is still uncertain due to the possibility of surgery. Thomas Vermaelen has already suffered two separate injuries this season with the latest calf injury coming against Levante last week. It has left Barcelona with just two center-backs in the form of Pique and Lenglet with no back up options in the first team.
The Catalans have decided to go with Valencia defender Jeison Murillo to strengthen their bench with the club still in the race for all three competitions. The 26-year old will be available to play for Barcelona from January. The defender has played for Inter Milan, Valencia and Granada so far along with 27 international caps for Columbia.
Although, Murillo has featured only twice for Valencia this season, with his most notable contribution coming against Juventus in the Champions League where Ronaldo was red-carded for pulling his hair.
The Catalans had shortlisted Chelsea defender Andrea Christensen for a loan move but the Blues rejected their bid. Barcelona also have their eyes set on Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt, but the teenager is unlikely to move before the end of the season.
Murillo’s arrival is likely to give a breathing space to Pique and Lenglet in the heart of the defence. The duo has already played 22 and 17 games in all competitions, respectively. Murillo is a good passer of the ball with 94.7% passing accuracy in two games he has played for Valencia this season. The defender’s 6ft height will also be an advantage to the Catalan club in aerial duels and set-pieces, where Barcelona usually suffer due to height disadvantage.
Barcelona currently sit at the top of La Liga with three-point advantage over Sevilla and Atletico Madrid. The Catalans play their next game against Celta Vigo on Saturday.
Murillo is a good signing for Barcelona given their current situation. The Catalans desperately needed a centre-back and a one with La Liga experience in a good option. But it will be interesting to see if he can really allow Pique and Lenglet to get some rest or proves to be an impulse buy.
PS: Ernesto Valverde’s trust on La Masia will be further questioned given he did not decide to go for Chumi from the B team.