Ernesto Valverde
Ernesto Valverde addressed the media before the Champions League clash with Sporting Portugal. Getty

Ernesto Valverde says Barcelona will analyse whether it is necessary to sign a new centre-back in January amid reports claiming the La Liga giants could activate the option to bring in Yerry Mina from Palmeiras if Javier Mascherano leaves the Nou Camp.

The former Athletic Club Bilbao boss had reiterated in recent weeks that the La Liga giants hadn't planned on bolstering their defence in the winter market unless one of his current defenders departs or suffers a long-term injury.

The Barcelona boss had four options at his disposal to cover those roles in the form of Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Mascherano and Thomas Vermaelen.

However, the situation could change with Valverde left with just two specialist centre-backs available for the upcoming Champions League clash against Sporting CP on Tuesday (5 December) due to the injuries of Umtiti and Mascherano.

The France international will be out of action for around two months after suffering a serious hamstring injury during the weekend's 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo, meaning that he will miss the upcoming trip to Real Madrid and all the fixtures in January.

Asked whether the new situation could change his plans and force Barcelona to sign a new centre-back in January, Valverde said: "We have time to analyse that decision. December has just started and we know that Umtiti's injury is a long-term but hopefully we can recover him in January. These questions emerge when there are injuries, there's always talk but, in principle, we're happy with the centre-backs we have got. We will have to see [whether is necessary to sign a new one]."

Umtiti's blow has coincided with reports in Spain claiming that Mascherano has asked to leave Barcelona in January in order to increase his chances of playing in the World Cup with Argentina next summer.

However, Valverde was coy about that option, adding the player is committed to the club.

Questioned what he plans to say to Mascherano to convince him to stay, the Barcelona boss said: "I cannot consider conversations when they have not happened. He is committed and we count on him. I do not care about anything else.

"The winter market has not arrived yet and we have been talking about it since August. When the transfer window comes, we will speak about it. Mascherano is our player and we count on him. We are happy with him and we just want him to recover soon from his injury. He is committed to Barça and has been demonstrating that for a long time."

Mundo Deportivo and other reports in Spain claim that Barcelona will sign Mina from Palmeiras in January if they fail to convince Mascherano to stay.

The Catalans are said to have first option to sign the 23-year defender in a deal worth €9m (£7.9m, $10.6m) which could be activated either in January or next summer.

Valverde confirmed that the option to sign Mina does exist - but he didn't want to discuss whether Barcelona are considering bringing the deal forward for January.

"[Mina] He is a good player who is in another club. As you say [there] is an option [to sign him in] the summer or in winter, but as we are in Autumn, I do not comment on other players from other clubs."