How should the future mate of Piqué in the future be?
There are still some months left to end the season, but FC Barcelona are already working in the planning of next season. Any galactic incorporation is expected, and the best signings will probably be the renewals of key players like Busquets, Neymar or Piqué. It's said that Denis Suárez could come back and that the club is looking for a 4th striker to take Pedro's role of last season.
But the most delicate position when looking for new players is the center-back one. Especially, thinking in a long-term period. The couple Piqué & Mascherano still has continuity, but the Argentine will turn 32 on June and the club should start thinking about his substitute. And the most important question: How should this center-back be? Taking into account the precedents in Barça, the most recommendable is that the new center-back is not a center-back.
Javier Mascherano came in FC Barcelona as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world and Guardiola turned him in a starter center-back in the last two Champions League won by the club. Éric Abidal showed that his experience as left-back was worth for his performance in the defense line. Remember that Carles Puyol used to play as midfielder in La Masia and Lois Van Gaal turned him in right-back, where he would slowly become the best center-back in the club's history. Even Gerard Piqué stood out playing as defensive midfielder in Zaragoza and, analyzing his technique, it wouldn't be strange to think he would have had success as midfielder.
On the other hand, the signings of the last center-backs have been disappointing: Vermaelen, Chygrynskiy, Cáceres or Henrique. None of them worked out. The only signings that resulted in a good level where Gaby Milito, frustrated by injuries, and Jérémy Mathieu, a player who was left-back until Unai emery readapted him in the position of center-back in Valencia. Other center-backs trained in La Masia like Fontàs, Muniesa or Sergi Gómez didn't show level enough, and Marc Bartra didn't convince any coach neither, which could mean he leaves the club this summer.
With this panorama, FC Barcelona's sporting direction should know that they have to look carefully when finding a new mate for Piqué. The requirement are clear. He must be fast and strong when cutting actions, so he can act like Puyol or Mascherano. He also needs good technical level to play the ball out and it would be fantastic that he could play with his left leg to offer more alternatives. And he should have certain experience at a top level to offer immediate performance, without being too much veteran.
Could we find this center-back in the current soccer world? Taking a look at the ones that sounded for Barça (Marquinhos, Laporte, Giménez or Stones) we can see that they don't meet all conditions 100%. But we might consider to look for a full-back or a midfielder that could become center-back. At the top of the list and without thinking about money, we could take into account two players: Alaba, from Bayern Munich, and Matuidi, from PSG... The new center-back might not be a center-back again.