Newcastle ace selected by Barcelona as viable Messi understudy

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After Newcastle were relegated to the Championship the vultures soon began circling, though it’s probably safe to say that Barcelona were not among the clubs expected to nibble at the carcass.

However, a report in the International Business Times suggests the Catalan club are about to make a surprise approach for Magpies forward Ayoze Perez.

The versatile 22-year-old may not have been able to keep the Magpies up with his contribution of six Premier League goals from 34 appearances, but this isn’t the first occasion the former Tenerife player’s talents have sparked interest among Spain’s elite clubs.

According to the IBT, both Blaugrana and their fierce rivals Real Madrid were keen on acquiring Perez’s services in the summer of 2014, when he instead opted for St James’ Park.

Now the timing could not be better given Newcastle’s plight, albeit that demotion is tempered slightly by the retention of Rafa Benitez at the helm. The vastly-experienced Spanish manager could yet influence his young compatriot’s thinking.

But if the Toon are set to lose their man, then the IBT cite a fee in the region of £15m will be the Championship newbies’ asking price.

Financially at least, that would rank as great business for the second-tier side after paying Tenerife just £1.5m two years ago.

Barca manager Luis Enrique has been unsuccessful in his quest to provide quality cover for his first-choice frontline of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez since losing Pedro to Chelsea 12 months ago.

Potential understudies such as Ousmane Dembele, Hatem Ben Arfa and Nolito have all slipped the net recently, apparently bumping Perez up the queue.

As far as upgrades go, the Championship to the Camp Nou has to be rated as five-star.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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