By Ben Hayward
Former Barcelona defender Miguel Angel Nadal believes the Catalan club should have coughed up for a new central defender during the summer transfer window.
Barca made bids for Chelsea's David Luiz and Liverpool's Daniel Agger, around £20 million and £6 million respectively, and they were also left frustrated as top target Thiago Silva committed his future to Paris Saint-Germain.
In the end, new coach Gerardo Martino opted to stick with the squad at his disposal, with captain Carles Puyol closing in on a return following knee surgery on a persistent problem in June.
"Everybody could see Barcelona needed to sign a centre-back," Nadal, who played as a centre-back under Johan Cruyff in Barca's legendary Dream Team, told Goal. "If you look at where Barcelona needed to strengthen, it was in defence.
"If you are talking about urgencies then perhaps you have to pay more, but you can maybe sign a player to cover several positions, like [Javier] Mascherano, who started off in midfield. But either way, it's an area where Barcelona needed to strengthen."
Sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta has insisted that Puyol would be their "new signing", but the Catalan defender is 35, increasingly prone to injury and cannot cope with the demands of a long season at this stage of his career.
Zubizarreta and president Sandro Rosell have come under fire this summer for their inability to attract a defender after signing Neymar for £50m back in May, and Nadal feels the Catalans could regret their failure to improve their backline, even if it meant they had to pay extra.
It has also recently been suggested that Barca struggle to identify suitable centre-backs because the club seeks players who possess sound technique and the ability to operate high up the pitch, but Nadal feels that should not be too important.
"I think that is naturally required," he added. "But I don't think it's everything. If a player is technically gifted then all the better; playing for Barcelona is never easy but I think they can find the profile [of player] they are looking for.
"It's a position in which I don't feel it is necessary to shine with so much technique because Barcelona have great technique all over the pitch."
Following Martino's arrival in place of Tito Vilanova, Nadal claims the current campaign could prove complicated for Barca as the team get to grips with the new coach's style.
"Every time there is a change of coach, there are other changes," he explained. "Barcelona have a very defined style, but there hasn't been much time [for Martino to settle in].
"I think the team could find it difficult this year to reach the level and the style of recent seasons."
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