Our series on players that Daniel Levy could be or should be looking at in the upcoming January Transfer window returns with Barcelona central defender Marc Bartra. Both Bartra and teammate Martin Montoya have been linked with moves to Tottenham Hotspur, albeit mostly over the summer.
Bartra is a La Masia product who has made three appearances for Barcelona's first team. He even scored a goal against Malaga in the league last season. Not bad for a 20 year old, eh? No matter how good Bartra is, he probably doesn't have much of a future at the Nou Camp, at least as long as players like Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol are still around.
Bartra is a bit on the small side, standing only 5'11", for a central defender and that may be a detriment to him in the Premier League. However, his size and ability compares pretty favorably, in my opinion, to other smallish central defenders like Thomas Vermaelen and Thiago Silva. In an ideal world he would need a more physically imposing partner, someone like Michael Dawson, Younes Kaboul, or Steven Caulker.
Central defense is not, perhaps, a position of high need for Tottenham Hotspur. Once Michael Dawson returns from injury Spurs will have five fit central defenders. Gallas and King may well be on their last legs though, so at some point additional defensive options will be required. Having players like Caulker and Bartra waiting in the wings would be a huge asset to the club.
Bartra is capable of playing all across the backline, but is most comfortable at central defense. He's a fairly decent defender who's ability on the defensive side of the ball will improve as time goes on. Where Barta excels is on the ball. He is very much a ball-playing defender. He has a good first touch and is a decent passer of the ball. He is calm and composed in possession as you would expect any product of La Masia to be.
Physically, Batra is average to above-average across the board. He has a fair amount of pace which would allow him to cover in behind a defender who's oriented more as a stopper, like Kaboul or Dawson. Bartra is not much of a jumper, so that combined with his lack of height may make him a liability in defense, but he makes up for that in other ways. How does Bartra make up for a lack of aerial ability? By excellent positioning. It is rare, to me, to see a young player who has such a good sense of where to be and when to be there.
Bartra would probably be available for £5 million or less. His wages would not be very high either. I personally think the purchase of Bartra and teammate Montoya would be excellent signings for the club. Both are young, but ready to play right away. Of course Bartra would need time to adapt to the English game, but he's not the sort of player that we're going to have to wait a few season to find out how good he is.