Borussia Dortmund have signed Marc Bartra from FC Barcelona to replace outgoing captain Mats Hummels. bundesliga.com runs the rule over the 25-year-old Spain international, who spent over half of his life at the Camp Nou.
When Bartra joined the Catalan club at the age of 11, he had a big dream: to one day play in the first team. He spent eight years in the youth academy, 'La Masia', until a certain Pep Guardiola was appointed as head coach. The former FC Bayern München coach was so impressed with the then 19-year-old's qualities that he promoted him to the first team. The son of a tractor driver, Bartra made his Spanish Liga debut in February 2010. His dream had come true. However, his real breakthrough came three years later under Gerardo "Tata" Martino, who fully appreciated the strength of the latest Barca product.
Bartra combines elegant distribution with defensive tenacity. His long passes are of the ilk of Hummels, whilst his biting tackles are reminiscent of Spain and Barcelona legend Carles Puyol, who is not only an inspiration to Bartra, but also his agent. "Puyol was my hero," said Bartra. "I watched his games while I was growing up. Since I have been in the fortunate position to get into the first team, he has been extremely supportive of me, during the good times and the bad."
Considerable trophy haul
The bad times are perhaps not so distant for Bartra, who has struggled to displace Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano and Jeremy Mathieu in Barca's central defence over the last two seasons. Bartra's efforts where appreciated, though, with Barcelona stating on their club website: "…whenever he got the chance, he never disappointed."
And so Bartra leaves the Catalans after a total of 59 appearances and five goals in La Liga and 22 games in the UEFA Champions League, as well as an impressive collection of trophies. In his time at Barcelona, Bartra won five Liga titles, two Champions Leagues, two Copa del Reys, two European Supercups, two Spanish Super Cups winner and one FIFA Club World Cup.
"Hand on heart"
So now Dortmund is where Bartra will hope to add to his collection of titles. He has signed a four-year contract. Following Hummels' transfer to Bayern there is a space in central defence alongside Sokratis Papastathopolous. Bartra is likely to be given the chance to impress, after all, he has honed his skills at one of the most prestigious clubs in the world, alongside some of the world's best defenders.
"I play more for Barca than I do for myself. I say this with his hand on my heart," Bartra once said. Passionate enthusiasm for his club is something BVB supporters will love. If he can identify with the SIGNAL INDUNA PARK faithful as quickly as he did with the Barcelona support, he could quickly become the darling of fans.