As Barcelona plan a move for Man City’s promising defender Eric García, the Catalan board could reap many benefits from such a deal.
Only one year is left before the next presidential elections at Barcelona. And, at Barcelona, the final year of a presidential cycle tends to be as dramatic as eventful. Everyone looks to his own interest and the different candidates fill their campaigns with promises and loud words. With football being a game of emotions, the pretenders to the throne have the power in their hands as they can shape the feelings of hope and excitement from fans.
These days, especially with the on-pitch struggles, few things thrill supporters more than young, promising signings. Unfortunately, a year before the 2021 elections at Barcelona, the coronavirus pandemic has hit the entire world, and football too. Not many big-money acquisitions are expected in the upcoming window, which forces the different candidates to modify their strategy.
Some rely on a key managerial figure, with candidate Víctor Font having a close relationship with legendary midfielder and now coach in Qatar Xavi Hernández. But, with Quique Setién still having a contract and his future being up in the air depending on the outcome of the Champions League, current president Josep Maria Bartomeu does not want to reveal his intentions with next year’s first team boss.
Pep Guardiola or Barcelona: Eric García will have a tough decision to make | Photo by Justin Tallis / Pool via Getty Images
That said, Bartomeu is looking at impactful signings in order to make his board win the respect of the fanbase again. Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martínez is the top target, but with Barça’s weakened budget it won’t be an easy operation. Instead, 19-year-old centre-back Eric García could be a more affordable buy.
Eric was one of La Masía’s brightest gems until his departure towards Manchester City in the summer of 2017. By that time, Barça did not want to match City’s offer and they let their Cadete A captain leave for England. But, with the teenager growing in leaps and bounds ever since, the blaugranas haven’t lost track of him.
Eric García has featured in 13 Premier League games this season, starting in 5 of the last 7. The trust of Pep Guardiola in him has grown while García’s performances have proved the manager right lately. The Catalan youngster is now expected to start in the crucial clash against Real Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League last 16. Alongside Aymeric Laporte and ahead of John Stones and Nicolás Otamendi, Pep has put his faith in Eric.
Nonetheless, with Manchester City’s problems at central defence, they are expected to reinforce such a position in the upcoming months. Due to the impact of COVID–19, Premier League summer transfers may not be abundant, but the Citizens still have the funds to aim at Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Bournemouth’s Nathan Aké. If such signings were completed, this would relegate Eric García to a substitute role, despite Guardiola’s strong belief in him.
Eric García is captain material | Photo by Imago
One of Eric Garcia’s agents is former Barça defender Carles Puyol, which seems attached to Víctor Font too. García is happy at the Etihad Stadium and Pep Guardiola himself was one of the reasons why he decided to leave his home in 2017, so he could end up renewing with City if he does not leave this summer. Yet Barcelona want to avoid that and wish to guarantee the signature of a centre-back that is set to mark an era in football, while also leaving presidential rival Víctor Font without a potential mood-lifting signing.
With Gerard Piqué being 33 years old and Samuel Umtiti probably sold after recurring injury problems, there is no better option to succeed Geri than Eric García. With concepts and automatisms that he carries deep in his veins from his time at La Masía and under Pep Guardiola, he would need zero adaptation in his return to Catalonia. At 1.82 meters he isn’t excessively tall, but he makes up for it with his top-notch intelligence, anticipation, positioning, and also excellent footwork.
A defensive leader in the making – if he isn’t one already –, Eric García is a golden opportunity the Barcelona board can’t let escape. Barça already ran the risk of letting him leave in 2017, but there is still time to fix the error. If they can convince him with a significant role in the squad, Eric would be a signing for the ages for the azulgranas.