Villarreal defender Eric Bailly has reportedly emerged as Barcelona’s alternative to Jose Gimenez, Aymeric Laporte and Marquinhos.
Mundo Deportivo says technical secretary Robert Fernandez has seen Bailly play on a number of occasions as he has been watching Denis Suarez, but the Ivory Coast international has made a good impression.
Gimenez is being discounted because Atletico Madrid’s possible transfer embargo means they’d be unlikely to want to sell an important player, while Athletic Bilbao would demand €50m for Laporte and he’s also recovering from a broken ankle, and Marquinhos has grown in importance at Paris Saint-Germain, making his signing more difficult.
Bailly is said to be the subject of interest from Juventus and Manchester City and is happy at El Madrigal, having moved to Villarreal from Espanyol in January 2015.
It’s suggested Barca could hold back on pursuing the 22-year-old for another season so he continues his development under Marcelino, having first become aware of Bailly when he was in the B team at Cornella-El Prat.
If a move is made, a fee between €20m and €25m is speculated, as Villarreal accepted a similar price from Arsenal for Gabriel, the player Bailly replaced.