There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.
U.S. political figure Donald Rumsfeld could have been talking about transfer season when he uttered those words, as they describe exactly what is going on …. actually …. sorta.
Here’s what we know:
— We have Neymar
— We need one, preferably two defenders
— We would like a keeper
If I had my way, we would sign a sanely-priced veteran, and a very talented young player to groom in the system. Bartra’s feelings might be hurt, not that such a thing would bother me in the least. “Wanna stay? Earn your spot.”
We are looking at, or not looking at, various players. We have talked to, or haven’t talked to, various players. Rumors abound, along with plenty of knowns, unknowns and speculative hooey. Here’s some mini-profiles of the players who are known to be rumored to be in our orbit, and because exactly one of you have missed the KRS (Kxevin Rating System), I will rate, from 1-10, my joy at having the rumored defender in our ranks. Let’s call it the KDR, or Kxevin Defender Rating. Let’s go.
Mats Hummels is a 24-year-old defender for Dortmund. He is 6’4″.
Strengths: Positioning, foot skills, very solid in the air, can move out from goal.
Weaknesses: Pace, physicality.
Mats Hummels has been linked to us for about as long as he is old (kidding!). He is a Pique analog, and for that reason alone, many rule him out, saying “We already have one of those.” Those who watched him in the CL final should know that he was hampered. He is more fleet afoot than that, and less mastodon-like. The rumor mill has cooled on him, since the rumor that we don’t like him now because he is too much like Pique. Long injury list, particularly last season, so he would fit right in at Barça in that regard.
Likelihood of arrival: Moderate. He IS too much like Pique, even as he has all of the skills to play in our back line with style. Price is steep, almost certainly north of 20m, for something we already have. He’s in the 6 million range, salary-wise, which is something else to consider.
Marcoa Aoas Correa is a 19-yaer-old defender for Roma. He is 5’11” tall, and weighs 174 pounds. Last season, he made EUR800,000.
Strengths: Pace, hops, age, versatility (has played CB and FB, rocking the house at both)
Weaknesses: If you believe MD, he’s short, though taller than Puyol and Mascherano. Sure tackler, excellent balance.
He is Brazilian. So he has foot skills. He won more aerial duels than any Roma defender last season. In the “wot a bargain” category, Roma bought him from Corinthians for 3 or 4m, depending upon who or what you believe. As of right now, they have about zero intention of selling him. But they also have zero intention, if you believe the club bosses and their quotes, of renegotiating his contract, in light of the attention being paid to him by big clubs.
Rumors of 20m+ bids being turned down have come from us and Them. Ultimately, who knows? He has said that he is staying at Roma, but they all say that until they leave. Recall that Neymar said he was staying at Santos, until he left. So don’t put a ton of stock in player declarations.
Most interestingly, he has had three injuries last season (kinda like our Correia, as in Adriano), a week in each instance, which is UNlike our Adriano.
Likelihood of arrival: Unlikely. High price, and he’s under contract until 2017, so Roma can sit tight and play hardball. 30m for a 19-yaer-old defender? People still reeling from 57m for Neymar, would probably poop cinderblocks.
Vincent Kompany is a 27-year-old defender for Manchester City. He is 6’4″. Last season he made a staggering 10.4 million pounds, or more than 12 million Euros.
Strengths: Very strong, good in the air, physical. And he has the greatest head in the world, potentially completing the Easter Island matched set with Jordi Roura. Kompany is also capable of playing DM, with solid foot skills. Sure tackler, sound positionally. Pace is good.
Weaknesses: Foot skills, in the FCB system, would leave something to be desired. Can be bamboozled by small, quick attackers. But there aren’t any of those in La Liga, right, so we should be safe there. Rash challenges.
Kompany’s name won’t leave the frame, much to the chagrin of some. He, too, has said that he is not leaving Citeh. I think that a lot will depend on new coach Pellegrini, and what he has planned. When he gets injured, they are doozies. Abductor tear, toe injury, etc. All of his knocks have meant long layoff spells.
Likelihood of arrival: Slim to none. Big, giant money in transfer fee and salary. If the Barça tier system is not to be blown to bits, having a defender coming in who makes Messi money would be absurd.
David Luiz is a 26-year-old defender for Chelsea. He is 6’2″.
Strengths: Strong in the air, good foot skills, good on the ball. Can play DM in a pinch, scores goals.
Weaknesses: Can go on mental walkabout, rash challenges, lack of discipline (vastly improved here). During a Premiership match broadcast, Gary Neville famously likened Luiz and his movements to being ‘controlled by a 10-year-old on a PlayStation’.
Very solid injury history, with a fractured foot in ’08, then nothing more until last season. He is under contract to Chelsea until 2017, but is rumored to be on the block when new coach Mourinho arrives, along with Branislav Ivanovic. Luiz is another whose name won’t leave the frame. One MD report said that he was ruled out for sporting and financial reasons, probably meaning he’s cray AND makes a lot of money. Luiz wouldn’t be a cheap transfer, either.
Likelihood of arrival: Almost nonexistent. Though he has the skill set to play at Barça, that is a lot of money for a player widely considered to be a spazz on the pitch. Because like Kompany, big fee, big salary.
Jeremy Mathieu is a 29-year-old defender for Valencia. He is 6’4″.
Strengths: Pace, strong in the air, versatile, can play CB, DM, FB though has most recently been playing CB. Good on attack, strong foot skills. Durable, with no injuries in the past two seasons.
Weaknesses: Not a real standout at any of his positions, though a confirmed starter for Valencia.
Mathieu’s name has been circulating since Valencia didn’t make Champions League this season, and rumors of sweeping changes are afoot. His price would be right, and he would need zero assimilation to the style of play and officiating in La Liga. Versatility means that, given the complexities we had last season, he could be moved around to a necessary position.
Likelihood of arrival: Very good. When a club drops 57m on a Neymar, yet is still in austerity, it’s a numbers game. Mathieu could almost certainly be had for something in the 10m range, which would be a steal for a defender of his quality. He made almost 6m last season, so that is a concern, but if there is any player who might be willing to accept a bit less for a shot at the brass ring.
Eliaquim Mangala is a 22-year-old defender who plays for Porto. He is 6’2″. Made about EUR500,000 last season.
Strengths: Had to do some quick research here, but seems to be a complete package: foot skills, size, strength, athleticism, hops so he should be good in the air.
Weaknesses: Haven’t watched Porto at all, so can’t make any claims in that regard.
This name just popped up on the radar, though folks in the know such as Euler and others, have long been wondering why he wasn’t on our list of candidates. Chelsea is also rumored to have a strong interest. Opportunistic player on set pieces, who scored a brilliant goal this season.
Likelihood of arrival: Good question. He has a lot of Barça watchers very excited now that he is in the frame. Porto has been selling this summer, but are often difficult to deal with and usually get top dollar. Market value of less than 10m, but in dealing with Porto you can add a few million to that. Looks to be the complete package of skills, money and salary. Is he ready for a big club? Again, good question.
Adil Rami is a 27-year-old defender who plays for Valencia. He is 6’3″ tall.
Strengths: Pace, physicality, positioning, strength, very solid in the air. If you can imagine a Pique with pace, coupled with a non-wack Pepe, that is Rami. He has vexed us mightily when we have played Valencia.
Weaknesses: Uncertain. He has what some refer to as “lifestyle issues.” Handsome lad, who makes the ladies scream. Famously, he injured himself while dancing to “Gangnam Style” at a charity event. Can have a temper, and gave Bojan Krkic a little pop during a European match against Roma. So there’s that. Graham Hunter waxed enthusiastic about Rami a couple of years ago. Worth a read.
He’s on the margins. Rami is unsettled at Valencia, and had said that he wants out. The club is trying to tempt him into staying with more money, but in a recent interview, he referenced his low buyout (10-12m) and said we’ll see about the future, which means “come get me, big club!”
Likelihood of arrival: Difficult to say if it is bluster or not, but he is very unhappy at Valencia. He wants that next level, and if we came knocking, it would be difficult to resist. Price is right, salary is up there, in the 6m range, however.
So there we go. Other names will doubtless pop up, but as of now, this is what we don’t know. No, Thiago Silva is NOT on this list. He is 29, would cost 45m+ and is under contract at a club that has absolutely zero reason to entertain offers for him. There is rumor, then there is absurdity.