Barcelona exploring options with long-term midfield target in La Liga

Barcelona are looking at potential ways of bringing in a replacement for Gavi, after their star midfielder went down with an anterior cruciate ligament injury on Spain duty. Within the La Liga rules, Barcelona will be able to sign a replacement until the end of the season provided their salary does not exceed 80% of Gavi’s salary.

One of the options that has been mentioned is Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara, but Sport note that Guido Rodriguez is another name that the Blaugrana are looking at closely. The Catalan daily say that Rodriguez is the player that is closest to meeting the profile that Xavi Hernandez and Barcelona want.

The World Cup-winner has been linked with Barcelona for some time, and given he is out of contract at the end of the season, he could be an option for the Blaugrana. Betis are keen to extend his deal, but with less than six weeks to go until Rodriguez can negotiate freely, they may be keen to ensure they get something out of his exit.

Barcelona are unlikely to be able to make a significant offer in terms of a loan fee, but they do have good relations with Betis, where former Technical Director Ramon Planes is now the Sporting Director at the Benito Villamarin. Barcelona are due 40% of Juan Miranda’s future sale if he leaves, and Chadi Riad is on loan at Betis. Los Verdiblancos have an option to buy Riad in the region of €3m, while the Blaugrana have a buyback option for €7m. These clauses could be used as bargaining chips for Rodriguez.

At 29 years of age, Rodriguez is playing excellent football, is physically capable of winning the ball back in space, and understands the game well positionally. With Oriol Romeu struggling to perform as a lone pivot for Xavi Hernandez, Rodriguez could provide competition and a more defensively sound alternative. Yet part of the reason Barcelona are still missing Sergio Busquets, and are having to bring the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Gavi and Ilkay Gundogan deeper in possession is to play the ball out from the back. Rodriguez is competent, but not at the same level as Busquets or the other midfielders mentioned when it comes to being that first receiver, a function that Marc Roca helps with at Betis.