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Five right-backs available – Who should Barcelona bet on?


In his final game as the manager of Barcelona, Xavi Hernandez did not have many options to choose from to deploy at right-back.

Joao Cancelo, the team’s first-choice right-back spent most of the season covering for Alejandro Balde at left-back, leaving only Jules Kounde and Hector Fort to provide cover to the defensive position.

A lot will change by the time Hansi Flick takes over for his first pre-season friendly at the club. The Catalans could see a situation of ‘rags to riches’ in the department as they could see up to five promising candidates to take over the position.

Barça Universal brings you an analysis of the five players in question and whom Flick should look to trust.

Jules Kounde

A bonafide centre-back not too long ago, Kounde appears to have embraced the challenge of succeeding at right-back, especially with his tangible improvement last season.

The French defender got better with every passing week and was remarkably solid in defence. Considering the competition at centre-back heading into next season, Kounde could well persist as an option on the flank.

If one had to pick a drawback, however, it would be the Frenchman’s relatively little output in the final third, especially considering that Flick demands a lot of his full-backs in attack.

Joao Cancelo

At this point, it is still unclear if Barcelona will have the services of Cancelo next season. The Portuguese star has impressed the management and convinced them, but the financial situation does not permit an outright purchase.

Should the Catalans manage to rope in the player on another loan, Cancelo may well be Flick’s best bet to start at right-back. The veteran provides incisive runs into the final third and is the perfect attacking full-back for Flick’s 4-2-3-1.

Contrastingly, the only negative one can consider in Cancelo’s case is the inevitable price he pays in defence. Invested fully in attack, the Manchester City star is often caught out of position on the counter as was seen against PSG and Real Madrid last season.

Hector Fort

Hector Fort impressed in his handful of appearances. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

At 17 years of age, young Hector Fort has his whole future ahead of him and is in a good position to stay with the first team next season.

The La Masia star, despite being a right-back by trade, did well for Barcelona on the other end of defence when called on by Xavi. His maturity and versatility at such a young age can only be a sign of great things to come.

In just seven appearances and under 400 league minutes for Barcelona last season, Fort provided two assists and averaged 2.3 ball recoveries per game. Considering that Cancelo himself netted four assists in 32 games, the youngster’s tally is impressive.

A long-term prospect whose development will be a challenge Flick will readily accept.

Julian Araujo

After having had to make do without playing any competitive football in the first half of 2023 to competing for a starting position in one of the La Liga teams, Julian Araujo has come a long way.

The young Mexican international spent the past season on loan at Las Palmas. Working under Garcia Pimienta, he made 25 league appearances for the club and even scored one goal for his side.

Araujo’s perks arrive more as a defence-centred right-back as he averaged over seven defensive actions and 3.2 ball recoveries per game in La Liga last season. He will return to Barcelona soon and all signs point to him staying, providing Flick with a fourth option.

Sergino Dest

Dest will be unavailable until 2025 due to injury. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Sergino Dest was close to leaving Barcelona after impressing on loan with PSV Eindhoven. A season-ending injury two months ago, however, changed everything.

The Dutch star’s knee injury forced him to go under the blade, ruling him out of action until 2025 at least. He will thus return to Barcelona next month and will not be available to Flick either until next year.

The change in management will give Dest reason to believe in a second chance, and it remains to be seen if he takes his opportunities when they do eventually arrive later in the season. After all, he recorded six assists and two goals in last season’s Eredivisie.

Conclusion

The coming summer transfer window could see major changes in the dressing room composition at Barcelona, and it remains to be seen how many options Flick indeed is left with when the season starts.

Joao Cancelo clearly stands out as the best candidate for the job if the club can find a solution for his extension. If the Portuguese star does not return, however, all eyes will be on Jules Kounde to see if he continues as the right-back.

Julian Araujo and Hector Fort, in all probability, will be the team’s two backup options.



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