Before the January transfer market opens, Barcelona is looking for defensive midfielders. The goal is to replace Sergio Busquets, whose contract at Camp Nou will expire at the end of the season, for the long haul. Several players, such as Ruben Neves of Wolves and Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi, have been identified as potential additions to Barça.
According to Gerard Romero’s report, however, not everyone at Barcelona is on board with the notion of signing Neves as a straight replacement for Busquets.
For one, head coach Xavi Hernandez does not see the Portuguese international as an adequate substitute for the seasoned midfielder. He will like to use Neves in the midfield with Busquets.
This is hardly surprising, given the Premier League is more familiar with the Wolves star’s long-range shooting prowess and ferocity than his technical skills.
Neves is a technically proficient player, but he may not have the same all-around value as Busquets. Thus, if Neves does really join Camp Nou at the conclusion of the season, Xavi may attempt to persuade Busquets to extend his contract by at least a year.
Fortunately for Barça, he is not the only promising young player they may acquire. Many promising European defensive midfielders, such as Real Sociedad’s young sensation Zubimendi, have been linked to a transfer to the club.
Romero said that the Neves transfer may cost anywhere from €65 million to €70 million, but that Wolves would be willing to take payments in installments, so Barcelona would only have to pay around €25 million in January and the rest at a later date.
Since the team would have to pay Zubimendi’s whole €60 million clause from Sociedad all at once, this proposal would make him a more attractive choice for the club.
Meanwhile, Busquets’ time in Barcelona is certainly coming to an end, and there are rumours that he may leave Europe for the United States. This may be the last transfer in his career.
All of this depends on Barça resolving their Financial Fair Play concerns, which might be helped along by player departures. The Catalan powerhouses will have a tantalizing opportunity in January.