Barcelona will look to fill one of the biggest voids in the footballing world this summer with defender Carlos Puyol, the bedrock of the Catalan’s rearguard for so many years, announcing his intention to leave the Nou Camp.
Like Paul Scholes, Peter Schmiechel, Thierry Henry and the like, Puyol is one of those players deemed practically irreplaceable.
However, the La Liga giants – who are 6/4 to win the league this year – will attempt to do just that when the transfer window reopens and here we run the rule over five Premier League players likely to be on their radar.
David Luiz – Chelsea
Brazilian ace Luiz has been consistently linked with Barca during his time in west London and while Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is adamant the player is going nowhere, the lure of the Nou Camp could tempt the 26-year-old to agitate for a move.
Recent reports state that the Catalan giants are preparing a bid of over £24m and would like to conclude their business before the World Cup kicks off this summer.
With the Blues adding Kurt Zouma and the defensively-minded Nemanja Matic to a squad that has seen John Terry and Gary Cahill form a solid partnership, this deal might just make sense for all parties concerned.
Transfer likelihood – 7/10
Laurent Koscielny – Arsenal
Arsenal’s French star has also been attracting admiring glances from Barca in recent years and the player’s agent has claimed that he is on a shortlist of potential replacements.
Had the Gunners maintained their momentum in looking to end their trophy drought it would be unthinkable for the former Lorient man to be eyeing the Emirates exit door.
However, with defeat at Stoke derailing the north Londoners’ title bid, and Bayern Munich carrying a 2-0 advantage into their second-leg Champions League tie, Arsenal’s chances of lifting a trophy are fast evaporating.
Wenger would be reluctant to sell one of his star performers – but this has not stopped players leaving Arsenal in the past!
Transfer likelihood – 6/10
Jan Vertonghen – Tottenham
Barca were said to be preparing a bid for the Spurs man in January, with the Belgian unhappy at being played out of position under former manager Andre Villas-Boas.
The 26-year-old has since established himself under new boss Tim Sherwood and seems to be enjoying his football at White Hart Lane.
However, with the Lilywhites looking set to miss out on Champions League football, the chance to link up with Barca’s stars and strut his stuff in Europe’s top competition could prove too tempting.
Spurs’ reputation for selling players at a profit makes this an interesting one and Barca’s estimated valuation of £20m is double what Tottenham paid so watch this space!
Transfer likelihood – 8/10
Vincent Kompany – Manchester City
Among City’s vast array of exciting flair players Vincent Kompany still manages to stand out as one of their key men.
As team captain and an ever present in the back four it is hard to see Manuel Pellegrini allowing the Belgian to leave, especially after signing a six-year deal as recently as 2012.
However, Barca are expecting to have to spend big to attract a worthy replacement for Puyol and City’s continued difficulties in the Champions League could sway the 27-year-old to hand in a request.
Transfer likelihood – 6/10
Michael Carrick – Manchester United
A long-shot maybe but Carrick is exactly the type of player that Barcelona have employed in central defence in recent years.
This worked in the case of Javier Mascherano and not so much in the case of Alex Song but Barca’s style of play means the centre backs need to be calm on the ball, able to the read the game as well as the best midfielders and posses a range of deft and accurate passing options.
Carrick ticks all these boxes and finds himself in a United side struggling to secure a top six – let alone a top four- finish in the Premier League.
He may be some way down Barca’s list, but with David Moyes expected to enact a major overhaul of the Red Devils’ playing staff and Alex Song said to be on his shopping list, sending Carrick the other way could be the solution for all.
Transfer likelihood – 4/10
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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