Barcelona continue their search for a replacement to legendary holding midfielder Sergio Busquets ahead of next season, and a new name has been added to the list as the Blaugrana begin their work in the summer transfer window.
That name is João Palhinha, one of the best players in a Fulham side that had a very impressive season in the Premier League. Palhinha has the physical requirements to play the role in today’s game, and showed a remarkable improvement in his passing ability during his debut season in England which has really caught the eye of Barça scouts who already had positive reviews on the player.
The 27-year-old Portuguese international was offered to Barça last summer but the Catalans couldn’t proceed with a deal as they had other positions in mind, but Busquets’ departure has made the La Liga champions take a serious look at Palhinha in the last few days.
And according to Diario SPORT, new Barça board member Deco is high on the player and knows Palhinha wants to move to Catalonia. Fulham are expected to ask for around €50 million but would be willing to negotiate at a lower number if Barça include players in the operation, the report says.
That would come in handy for Barça as they look to offload the likes of Eric García, Franck Kessie, Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati, as well as players just returning from loan such as Clément Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti. Getting rid of those names would lower the salary cap enough to complete other summer operations such as Ilkay Gündogan and Brazilian striker Vitor Roque.
Barça boss Xavi Hernández had two priorities for the pivot position in Real Sociedad’s Martín Zubimendi and Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich, but both players made it clear their intention to stay with their current clubs in recent days. Morocco star Sofyan Amrabat is the next name on the list but has plenty of interest around Europe, so Palhinha emerges a real option now.
Another name on the list to keep an eye on is Benfica’s Florentino Luís, who exploded onto the scene in the Champions League and is a physical presence who’s shown good improvement in his ball skills as well. Barça appreciate him, but it seems as though the young Portuguese midfielder isn’t quite as high on the list of priorities at the position.