Arsenal midfielder on Barcelona’s list of Xavi and Iniesta replacements

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Having sold Thiago Alcantara in the summer and Xavi now reaching the age of 33, Barcelona’s midfield could be significantly weaker in the coming years.

It seems that Barca have realised that they need to consider what their midfield may look like in the future and are currently drawing up a shortlist of younger players, who would best fit into their playing style.

Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan is one player prominent on this list, but it looks more likely that he will head to Real Madrid instead, with some speculation indicating that a €20m deal is already on the table.

This offer will see Gundogan move for five years and include the permanent switch of Nuri Sahin in the other direction.

Barcelona are also keeping tabs on the development of Koke at Atletico Madrid, who has featured in Spain’s three World Cup qualifiers this season.

At 21, Koke is a big talent and has the range of passing that may make him the perfect long-term replacement for Xavi, alongside being more physical without the ball.

However, there is likely to be Premier League competition for his signature, with Manchester United one club to previously have their name linked.

The third player of interest for Barcelona is Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, who has not enjoyed his most influential start to the season from a personal perspective, despite the impressiveness of the Gunners as a team.

Wilshere is at his best centrally and in the position often referred to as the number-eight role, although for Arsenal he has been pushed out to the wider areas in the opening third of the campaign.

He is far from a guaranteed starter now, especially given the start to the campaign of Aaron Ramsey and so may be more open to a switch to the Nou Camp.

Wilshere needs to rediscover the ability to almost glide beyond an opponent when receiving the ball under pressure and he would be well suited to Barcelona’s playing style. He may even improve them, given his nature to want to pass forwards rather than sideways.

Arsenal’s start to the season has seen them priced at just 6/4 now to finish in the top two of the Premier League.

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

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.