This headline might seem like a piece of nonsense at first, but when you look at that disastrous night in Madrid you will understand the importance of reinforcing one of the most pivotal positions in Pep’s footballing philosophy. I have absolutely no doubt that we would have won that Semifinal game comfortably had Walker been fit. Also, this year is going to be more hectic with the world cup and you cannot help but wonder whether we can complete the season with only 3 senior full backs (assuming we sign Cucurella and Zinchenko leaves)
The counter argument here would be that Pep could rotate Cancelo in both the full back positions and thus 3 full backs would suffice. What if one of the full backs is sidelined with a long term injury. Then you are again back to square one. Also, Walker is not getting any younger and i think this season his workload will be managed very carefully by Pep.
The biggest surprise here is this full back injury situation has started right from the Benjamin Mendy days and it seems we have not been able to address it even after 5 years. But, now with us competing in the semi finals and finals of the Champions League more often when compared to 3-4 years ago, it is about time we address this issue.
There is a common theme between our loss in the Champion’s league final and semi final. Unfortunately there are no prizes for guessing. The answer is the lack of an Athletic full back. When Kai Havertz ran through on goal in that final, the only thing that was going through my mind was, a faster full back could have prevented that goal. The same thing repeated again in both of the semi final legs against Madrid when Vinicius made us suffer down that right flank.
There is a common template repeating and if we don’t address this fact, it might just seep into our Premier League results as well. No other manager than Pep could have managed the absence of a natural left back for 5 years and we should not forget that in this period we have won back to back premier league titles twice. But, i do feel that now is the time for us to give Pep cover in that position like we have in all the other positions on the pitch.
We all are often wondering what is the final ingredient needed to win the Champion’s League and i guess the answer is stacking up the full back positions with world class talent. I know lack of finishing is an other major factor that has hindered us in Europe, but we have addressed it with the most ruthless finishers available in Haaland and Alvarez. Now, is the time to plug the final hole in that Full back positions and apply the final touches to this extraordinary team.
Unless Pep is banking on Egan Riley to play more minutes next season, we need to go for an other full back and avoid the lack of Personnel in that position in the later stages of the season when things are almost always on a knife edge. I want us to complete the Cucurella signing and look for his back up as well, someone who can develop, but is ready to step into the first team whenever needed