FC Barcelona have kept all options open, not ruling out the possibility of signing a right-back in the event the dire financial state takes a U-turn. Links with the likes of Joao Cancelo and Ivan Fresneda have thus been present too.
However, Barcelona understand that signing an adept right-back is a challenging chore in the current economic conditions. As such, the likelihood of persisting with the same fundamentals as last season is certainly in the offing.
According to Mundo Deportivo, Jules Kounde has accepted Xavi’s request to handle the reigns on the right-hand side of the pitch. Earlier this summer, reports of the Frenchman appearing unamused by this role led to talks on the grapevine of him asking for a departure.
Even so, the player came out on social media to squash the prattle and is expected to proceed with the coach’s demands, despite his apparent preference to play as a central defender.
The French international understood his position at the meeting he had with Xavi, with whom he has had a great relationship ever since he arrived. The reason behind his acceptance is also because he will not be tasked to play a conventional overlapping role of a right-back, but play in a 3 man back-line.
Considering Xavi’s box midfield set-up sees him line up with a 3-4-3 formation, Balde is essentially a wing-back who is allocated higher up the pitch, unlike a traditional full-back. To make up for his forwardness, Kounde will have more defensive responsibilities on the right, which coincides with the former Sevilla man’s skillset.
Despite this, it is expected that on certain occasions, he will have to lend his services up front with more regularity. Making up for his offensive shortcomings, Kounde has been seen practicing cut-backs and crosses into the box, which was something he struggled with last season.
Xavi has the great luxury of playing Kounde in a wider role, with his comfort to invert and provide security in possession, one of the requirements of the role. The player’s acceptance will allow the coaching staff to breathe a sigh of relief.