Barcelona to rival Liverpool in pursuit of Garay who is seen in the photo
Ezequiel Garay of Valencia looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League group H match between Valencia CF and Chelsea FC at Estadio Mestalla on November 27, 2019 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

In a recent report, Sport has claimed that Barcelona are set to rival Liverpool in pursuit of Ezequiel Garay. The long-term injury to Gerard Pique has left the Catalan giants short of options in their defensive department, so they could look to recruit the experienced Argentine centre-back, who is a free agent at the moment (via Sport).

Garay’s Form At The Mestalla Stadium Last Season

The 34-year-old has not played competitive football for a long time after being released by Valencia last summer. However, there is no hiding from the fact that Garay has enjoyed a long and illustrious career in Europe so far.

The Rosario-born defensive ace participated in 23 matches for Valencia last season, picking up five yellow cards in the process on all fronts. He was a rock at the back and did well to average 0.7 tackles, 0.8 interceptions and 4.2 clearances per game in the 2019-20 La Liga campaign. Garay even distributed possession immaculately out from the back after making 87.6% of his attempted passes in top-flight football (stats via whoscored).

The 32-time Argentine international has got the quality and experience to fill in as an emergency, short-term option to resolve some of Ronald Koeman’s recent defensive concerns. Garay could serve as an ideal replacement for Gerard Pique in the remainder of this campaign as he is quite similar to the Spaniard in terms of what he offers on the defensive end of the field.

Barcelona to rival Liverpool in pursuit of Garay who is in action in the photo
Gabriel Paulista and Ezequiel Garay of Valencia jump for the ball during the UEFA Champions League group H match between Valencia CF and Chelsea FC at Estadio Mestalla on November 27, 2019, in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

What Will The Argentine Centre-Back Bring To The Nou Camp?

Garay lacks the mobility to get up and down the field but can still be a dominant defender at the back. Standing at 1.88m, he is a towering presence inside his penalty box and can use his strong frame to outmuscle the opposition in the air.

The Argentine international is also an expert at reading the danger quickly, which allows him to make some important clearances for his side. However, at 34, he is edging closer towards the end of his playing career, so he won’t be a long-term signing for any of his potential suitors including Barca.

Koeman should only consider offering Garay a short-term contract as he is currently in the midst of an injury crisis in defence. Pique is out of action for several months because of a serious injury. Samuel Umtiti, Ronald Araujo, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto are spending time on the treatment table as well which has left Barca with Clement Lenglet as their only fit senior centre-back option.

Garay could potentially strike up a fruitful partnership with Lenglet as his experience and physicality will complement the Frenchman’s skillset quite well at Catalonia. All in all, Koeman would be wise to offer the former Benfica centre-half a chance to shine at the Nou Camp for at least until the end of this campaign as he will be a quick and affordable fix to his team’s defensive frailties.

A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.