Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are said to have reached an agreement in principle for the transfer of Luciano Vietto.
Mundo Deportivo reports only minor details need to be settled on the €22m deal and those are with Vietto himself, the clubs coming to an entente over the Argentina international.
It had been suggested Atletico would rather loan Vietto, who was signed a year ago from Villarreal for €20m, but have agreed to a sale to Camp Nou.
Barca’s Luis Enrique had previously confirmed the club’s desire to sign a fourth forward, and cited ‘goals and speed’ as the qualities he wanted from the new arrival.
Vietto will be used as back-up to and competition for Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, it’s believed, and was the first choice of Enrique and sporting director Robert Fernandez once the decision was made to go for a younger player.
Sevilla’s Kevin Gameiro was also an option if Barca went down a different path but the Catalans have been dissuaded from the Frenchman because of his high price – Sevilla insisting on his €40m clause – and his age, as, at 29, the amortization on the fee would be costly.
Barca’s interest in Vietto dates back 12 months, Mundo Deportivo add, but the club’s FIFA-imposed transfer embargo made it a difficult operation to conclude and he instead joined Atletico.
Vietto also spoke to Sevilla’s Jorge Sampaoli but has been convinced he can develop at Barca even if he isn’t a regular in the side, having often been a substitute in his year at Vicente Calderon, and the presence of friend, compatriot and former international colleague Messi may also have swung the decision for Vietto.
It’s noted that Messi and Vietto even travelled to Italy together in April 2015 to consult the dietician they share, Dr Giuliano Poser.