Barcelona are set to drop out of the race for one of the most talented players under the age of 18 in the world of football, with the Blaugrana accepting that the Premier League’s financial power is not something they can match. Argentina recently made it to fourth in the under-17 World Cup, but Claudio Echeverri was the star of the show for the Albiceleste, and has attracted the interest of a number of top clubs around the world.
“In addition to River, I would like to play for Barca. I’m a big fan of Messi and I watched him play in Barcelona, so I’ve had this team inside me since I was very young,” Sport quote.
Yet that preference is unlikely to translate into him turning down a mammoth first contract in Europe. The Catalan daily say that Inter, Milan, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain were all watching with interest as Echeverri impressed crowds in Indonesia. Yet it is accepted that Chelsea and Manchester City are ahead in the race for the teenage sensation.
His market price was around €20m, but that is expected to rise with Chelsea ‘willing to throw the kitchen sink’ at a deal. Meanwhile City’s relations with River are in a good spot after deals for Maximo Perrone and Julian Alvarez.
The example of Echeverri explains why the Blaugrana have been keen to do deals for the likes of Noah Darvich (16, signed from Freiburg this summer), and Mikayil Faye (18, signed from the Czech second division). As soon as other major clubs become interested and are willing to get into a bidding war, Barcelona do not have the firepower to back them up. Thus the Blaugrana are acting faster and taking more risks, but are hoping that that it ends up saving them money down the line.