Mathieu: Barcelona would be complete with new defender

The Frenchman has suggested a new signing would be ideal in January after Thomas Vermaelen was ruled out for another four to six months

Jeremy Mathieu says Barcelona could do with bringing in another defender in January to have a “complete squad” after the latest injury setback to Thomas Vermaelen.

The Belgium defender has not kicked a ball since signing from Arsenal in the summer and now faces another four to six months out after suffering a further strain in his hamstring problem that will require surgery.

Mathieu admits the blow does leave Luis Enrique’s side short at the back and suggested a new signing would fill one of the few holes remaining in the Camp Nou squad.

“It is difficult for him and for the group because we are left with one player less,” the Frenchman told reporters when asked about Vermaelen.

“Now we have only three centre-backs and Thomas will be out of action for a long time.

“We will see if the club can sign another player to try to complete our squad.”

The 31-year-old stopper will face former club Valencia as Barcelona travel to the Mestalla on Sunday and he admits it will be a memorable fixture against a team he represented for five years.

“It will be a special match for me – it is nice to return to the Mestalla, where I was for so long,” said Mathieu.

“I don’t know how I will be received. I left a good impression there and if they whistle me I have to accept it. I will be on the opposite side and now I am 100 per cent Barca, but I had great moments at Valencia.

“Barca have gone through a difficult period and we are better after two good matches. I hope that we can continue the form in this game. We are going there to win, but we know they are a team who are capable of doing great things and they are very close to us in the league.”

Mathieu attempted to play down any controversy between him and coach Luis Enrique after his post-Clasico comments that suggested he was surprised to have been picked to play at left-back for the 3-1 defeat at the Bernabeu.

He continued: “I said that without looking to cause controversy. When I signed, I spoke about playing as a full-back or as a centre-back. I said that I was surprised, but I will play where they tell me.

“I did not know I was going to play as a full-back, but it was not a criticism. I did not say it to create a bad atmosphere, only that I was surprised when I saw my name at full-back. If the coach asks, I will play there again.”

Second-placed Barcelona currently sit four points clear of Valencia in the Liga table going into the match.