Centre back has been an issue at FC Barcelona for a while now. Pique and Puyol were the chosen pair for many successful years but when the former captain's body could no longer manage it, Pique has been on the search for a regular partner at the back. Mascherano was the chosen one but he decided to go to China instead.
The most obvious candidate since then has been Samuel Umtiti. The French centre back worked well alongside Pique until his latest knee issue forced him onto the sidelines for an extended period of time. He chose a longer recovery time which meant Lenglet was thrust into the first team sooner than expected. Thankfully his compatriot has slotted in without an issue.
PIQUÉ AND THREE MORE
It was the late Tito Vilanova who said: "Without Pique, we'd fall to pieces" in 2011. Eight years later and that still remains the case today, as witnessed by the defensive display against Villarreal. Further proof if it was needed that whilst thinking about the future was fine, it's also important not to ignore the present. The board wants to avoid situations like they one seen in January when Barça scrambled to sign Murillo. It showed a lack of planning. The idea is to keep four centre backs of the highest level on the books.
THINKING ABOUT THE LONG TERM
The four centre backs Barça want for next season are: Piqué, Lenglet, Umtiti and De Ligt. This would see all four have their immediate - and long term - futures tied to FC Barcelona, until 2023 to be precise. Pique's deal actually expires a year before but his is a special case. There's no danger of him leaving the club and he is free to decide when his time is up so he can retire at the Camp Nou.
De Ligt adding to Umtiti and Clement would set up Barça in the long term. The latter has already demonstrated he's good enough to start at an elite club and there's hope Umtiti, with the right amount of recovery, will get back to his best form too.
THE ONES TO LEAVE
Murillo will be allowed to return to Valencia after his laon spell. Vermalen, who is out of contract is the summer, is also expected to leave. The defender is already looking for options ahead of next season.
In that list you can include Todibo, the latest to arrive at Barça. Valverde is impressed by the youngster but feels he needs more playing experience before he's thrown into the first team. The plan is to loan him out in order to gain crucial minutes and then make a decision on his future based on his development.