A look back at some of the FC Barcelona's most recent left-sided defenders. How many do you remember?

Frank de Boer was a regular starter in his time at Barça / PHOTO: FCB ARCHIVE
Recent left-footed defenders at FC Barcelona have included Abidal, Fontás, Milito, Frank de Boer, Pellegrino, Petit and Bogarde

The Frenchman’s number 24 shirt has previously been owned by Puyol, Couto, Fontás, Iniesta, Toure Yaya and Sergi Roberto

Jeremy Mathieu is Barça’s first left-footed defender since Éric Abidal left in the summer of 2013. Abidal’s six seasons at the club got off to a slow start, with him first featuring as a full-back. It was only after Pep Guardiola decided to move him to the centre of defence that he became a regular feature of the first team.

Abidal was in the squad at the same time that Andreu Fontàs made his first team break at left-back, but the Catalan didn’t get too many chances and his development was further hampered by injuries. After going on loan to Mallorca in 2012/2013, he joined Celta Vigo in 2013.

Another of Abidal’s team-mates was left-footed Argentinian Gabriel Milito, who arrived in 2007 from Real Zaragoza. After an excellent first season, he suffered a knee injury and although his performances were as good as ever, he never quite managed to re-establish his place in the first eleven.

In 2003, Barça said farewell after five years to one of its best left-footed centre backs of recent times, Dutchman Frank de Boer. A top quality player and a natural leader, he read the game to perfection and also had a powerful shot – all of which ensured him a regular place in the starting line-up under various managers.

De Boer was around at the same time as fellow ‘leftie’ Mauricio Pellegrino. The Argentinian impressed in his only season at FCB, but departed for Valencia at the end of it. Versatile Frenchman Emmanuel Petit was also used at centre back on several occasions during his solitary year at Barcelona (2000/01).

Another Hollander, Winston Bogarde, played on the left-hand side of defence from 1998 to 2000. He was signed from Milan by Louis van Gaal, having previously won the Champions League with Ajax.

Number 24

Mathieu will be wearing the number 24 shirt – not the most common choice, yet it’s one that a number of illustrious Barça players have donned in recent years, including Carles Puyol and Andrés Iniesta. Back in the days when players started to be issued permanent squad numbers (as opposed to the 1-11 shirts being handed out at the start of each match), Roger Garcia became the first Barça number 24 in 1994, and wore it until 1999.

Portuguese defender Fernando Couto was next to be given the number, and after that 24 was Carles Puyol’s original first team shirt from 2000 to 2002. Another future superstar, Andrés Iniesta, also started out wearing number 24, for four seasons from 2003 to 2007.

When Iniesta changed number, Yaya Touré was next to take it. The Ivorian had the number 24 on his back throughout his entire period at FC Barcelona from 2007 to 2010.

After a year without a number 24, the next owner was Andreu Fontás in 2011/12. When he left for Mallorca, half a season would pass before it found a new owner, this time Sergi Roberto. This season, the Catalan has switched to the number 20 shirt, leaving 24 free for its new incumbent – Jeremy Mathieu.