BVB has been busy this off-season buying plenty of new talent. Marc Bartra has been brought in to strengthen up our defence, but how/why did BVB get a player from Barcelona's first team? We asked Renato Goncalves from Barca Blaugranes a few questions about Bartra and what he can do for BVB.
FTW: How effective do you think Bartra will be as a direct replacement for Hummels, as a ball playing centre back?
Renato: It is really hard to replace one of the top center backs in football in Hummels, but Bartra is one of the players with the qualities to give Dortmund a similar contribution. He is a Barça player since he was 10 years old, which means he grew up learning how to pass the ball and make plays from the back, which is something Hummels did so well for BVB. Tuchel wanted a great defender who can also help on offense, and he's got that in Bartra. More importantly, for a very cheap fee.
FTW: Why wasn't Bartra able to break into the starting eleven? What was holding him back?
Renato: Simple answer: Gerard Piqué and Javier Mascherano. They became perhaps the best CB pairing in the world at Barça, and they are so durable and reliable that they rarely miss games, which gives very little opportunities to the backups. In the chances he had, Bartra was good, but the circumstances were almost always right for him. When he was put in big pressure situations, like the 2013 CL semifinal against Bayern and the 2014 Spanish Cup Final against Madrid, all of his flaws became evident. The lights were too bright for a young player, and he never had time to work on his defects because of lack of playing time.
FTW: What do you think Batra's ceiling could be?
Renato: One thing has to be clear: Bartra will not be Hummels. Very few defenders, even the hot prospects, will be Hummels. But Bartra has shown glimpses that he has a good potential. The problem for him has always been playing time. No footballer will grow into a great player if he doesn't have enough minutes in intense competition to develop. Bartra trained and trained and trained, but he wasn't on the pitch often, so he hasn't developed yet. But if Tuchel believes in him enough to make him Hummels' direct replacement, then Bartra can be a very good defender. Give him 20 straight games, and you'll see a great centerback emerge. If he's only a 5th choice CB like he was at Barcelona, then the 8M transfer will not be good business.