Barcelona announced Tuesday that former defender Eric GarcIa has agreed to return to the club on a five-year contract. The center-back will move on a free transfer on July 1 from Premier League champions Manchester City and has a $489 million buyout clause (€400m).
Garcia also follows in the footsteps of Sergio Aguero. The Argentine was unveiled as a new Barcelona player on Monday at the Camp Nou after swapping the Etihad Stadium for the Camp Nou.
Barcelona’s latest move sees Garcia return to the club where he started his career. The defender joined the club in 2008 and progressed through Barca’s famed La Masia youth academy.
Garcia captained the club at every level before leaving to spend four seasons with Manchester City. The defender has now returned and will be hoping to force his way into the starting XI at the Camp Nou next season.
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Barcelona Defense Needs Strengthening
The arrival of Garcia will help strengthen a Barcelona defense that has proved vulnerable in recent seasons. The 20-year-old will join youngsters Ronald Araujo and Oscar Mingueza as defensive options along with veterans Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, and Clement Lenglet.
Franc Artiga, who managed Garcia for the Barcelona Under-19s, has highlighted just what the youngster will be able to bring to the Catalan giants following his return in an interview with Què T’hi Jugues.
“Eric is from Catalonia and he didn’t leave willingly, I’m happy for him and also for Barça, who will win in the short and long term. He is a center-back with a lot of personality and character. His ball output is important to Barcelona’s essence and style of play,” he said. “He will have many minutes to play and start. They say he will be Piqué’s competition, but he can play as a left centre-back.”
Barcelona could still move for another defender in the summer transfer window. The Catalans want to bring in another “quality center-back,” but the club’s financial issues means they may not be able to secure top targets such as Pau Torres and Matthijs de Ligt, according to Marca.
Barcelona Return Is ‘Dream Come True’
Garcia has made it clear that returning to Barcelona is a “dream come true” but did also thank former club Manchester City, including coach Pep Guardiola, for the opportunity to play with the Citizens in an interview with Barca TV.
“I’m extremely happy to be here. I think it’s a dream come true to be playing for this club. Hopefully we can achieve big things next season and in the future. I think I had the chance to live a fantastic experience at Manchester City,” he said. “I’m grateful to Pep and all the coaching staff that helped me a lot and gave me the chance to play and let me come back here. Obviously I will try to help the team as much as I can and try to win as many trophies as we can and to share it with the fans.”
Barcelona fans will be able to watch Garcia in action over the summer at the 2020 European Championship. The defender is part of Luis Enrique’s 24-man Spain squad for the tournament.