Barcelona are reportedly eyeing Atletico Madrid’s Brazilian defender Felipe as a potential replacement for Gerard Pique, who is a long-term injury absentee.

According to a report from Spanish publication AS, Barcelona are plotting a January raid on La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid for the signing of defender Felipe amidst an injury crisis at the club.

Barcelona have been hit with a spate of injuries in defence in recent weeks. While Samuel Umtiti hasn’t played a single minute of football this season, youngster Ronald Araujo also picked up an injury early in the campaign before Gerard Pique was sidelined with a cruciate ligament injury last month.

The former Spanish international could be out till April next year, meaning he is set to miss a large chunk of the season. And with Clement Lenglet also picking up a knock this past weekend, Barcelona find themselves thinly-stretched in the centre-back department, leading to manager Ronald Koeman using Frenkie de Jong in defence.

While Barcelona B vice-captain Oscar Mingueza has stepped up and impressed, the Blaugrana are looking to bolster their defensive ranks in January, with plans being drawn to bring in two new centre-backs once the transfer window is open for business.

Manchester City’s Eric Garcia remains firmly on the radars of Barcelona and is their primary target to reinforce their backline. However, the Catalans have now also identified Atletico Madrid’s Felipe as an option ahead of the winter window.

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The 31-year-old Brazilian started out the academy of Uniao Mogi and spent time at Bragantino, Coimbra-MG and Corinthians before moving to Europe, signing for FC Porto in the summer of 2016. Felipe spent three years at the Portuguese outfit, making 144 appearances before Atletico Madrid came calling last year.

Having been fairly regular in the last season as well as the early parts of the ongoing campaign, the 31-year-old has dropped down the pecking order at the Wanda Metropolitano in recent weeks with Diego Simeone preferring the back three of Stefan Savic, Jose Gimenez and Mario Hermoso.

And, Barcelona are hoping to capitalise on the situation by making a move for the 31-year-old in the January transfer window. It is claimed that the Blaugrana would consider a six-month loan deal for the two-time capped Brazilian international, while they would also be open to outright buying him.

However, Atletico Madrid are reluctant to do any business considering that they are pushing for the La Liga title this season, while also competing in the UEFA Champions League and will soon be starting their Copa del Rey campaign as well.

Apart from Garcia and Felipe, Barcelona have also been linked with a shock swoop for former Real Madrid defender Ezequiel Garay, who is currently a free agent. It remains to be seen who the Catalans do end up signing once the January transfer window opens.

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