Two key names have been linked with Barcelona in recent months as they try to prepare for life after Sergio Busquets. Yet it appears the club are now looking into other alternatives as their first two options look increasingly unlikely.
The midfielder that Xavi Hernandez would hand-pick is Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi. He has recently signed a new deal at La Real until 2027 with a prohibitive release clause of €60m. In addition, he has shown little appetite to leave.
Wolves’ Ruben Neves has also been linked, as a star of Jorge Mendes, with whom Barcelona have a close relationship. However Neves would have to move for significant money, likely between €40m and €60m, another fee the club are unlikely to be able to pay next summer.
Now two other candidates have emerged, including another from the Midlands. According to Calciomercato, via MD, Barcelona are considering offering Franck Kessie in exchange for Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz. The Brazilian midfielder has been heavily courted by Arsenal in recent months, although in that case too, a fee of 60m has been mentioned.
As per Estadio Deportivo, they are also looking at Real Betis’ Guido Rodriguez. The 28-year-old has been crucial for Manuel Pellegrini over the last three seasons and is also attracting interest from Roma and Everton.
He would likely be available for less, perhaps somewhere in the region of €30m, but Rodriguez has also given permission to Betis to start talks over a contract extension too. While he is ruling out a move, he would renew his contract until 2026 to strengthen the club’s negotiating position and no doubt, improve his contract too. Currently his deal expires in 2024.
Regardless of who Barcelona try to bring in, it seems unlikely they will be able to find a player that ticks all of their boxes. Although they likely want to sell Frenkie de Jong, it may be worth trying to forge ahead with one of de Jong or Nico Gonzalez next season, rather than potentially making an expensive mistake. Alternatively, they may simply opt for a free agent as the answer, with both Jorginho and Ngolo Kante out of contract next summer.