Barcelona identify new ‘low-cost’ candidate for pivot role in Serie A on shortlist of three

Barcelona’s search for the successor to Sergio Busquets was never likely to be a simple one, and this summer Oriol Romeu’s addition was an admittal that they could not afford to go for a long-term nor a more high profile option. Next summer the Blaugrana will look to address the matter though, and MD say there are three top candidates on their shortlist.

Their interest in Martin Zubimendi of Real Sociedad has been known about for some time, and Xavi Hernandez has made it clear to the club that he is the favourite. However his €60m release clause and reluctance to leave La Real are major obstacles for the Blaugrana.

Meanwhile Newcastle United’s Bruno Guimaraes is another deeper midfielder entering his prime at the age of 26. The Brazilian has a €100m price tag though, something well out of their reach. The only way of doing a deal will be to include Raphinha in a player plus cash deal, taking advantage of their interest in the former Leeds United star. That would also require convincing Raphinha of the move though.

Finally, the Catalan daily reveal that Atalanta midfielder Ederson dos Santos is also being watched by the Blaugrana. Another Brazilian, the 24-year-old has racked up five goals and three assists this season in spite of his deeper position, and tends to average around 12km covered per game in Gian Piero Gasperini’s dynamic system. Standing out for his physical prowess, he has been tactically and technically competent to go with that, and looks to be the most financially accessible. Even at that, Barcelona feel he would cost them €35m plus €10m in variables, while his salary would be around €3.5m per annum.

Even that price tag seems some way removed from their current means. Around €130m in excess of their salary limit currently, Barcelona will require a huge jump in that margin to be able to make major money signings, and likely some sales too. More likely is Dutch midfielder Mats Wieffer.