Barcelona are targeting low-cost defensive and midfield signings this summer — including a trio of Chelsea defenders — in order to go all out for Erling Haaland, sources have told ESPN.
Barca know the competition for Haaland will be fierce, with Real Madrid, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain also in the running for the Borussia Dortmund man, but president Joan Laporta is determined to bring a star striker to Camp Nou. If they miss out on Haaland, other options will be explored.
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Haaland, 21, is expected to leave Dortmund this summer when a release clause reportedly worth around €75 million kicks in. Laporta has already held several meetings with the forward’s agent, Mino Raiola, to broach a potential deal.
Coach Xavi Hernandez also wants to strengthen the side at the back, so to save money for a forward, Barca have contacted players whose contracts are expiring with their respective clubs within the next 18 months.
Sources have confirmed to ESPN that they have sounded out moves for at least five players, including Chelsea defenders Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Marcos Alonso. Azpilicueta and Christensen could sign for free in the summer, but Alonso still has one year to run on his contract at Stamford Bridge.
ESPN first revealed Barca’s interest in Azpilicueta, 32, in November. Club sources are “optimistic” of finalising a deal for the Spain international in the coming months.
The potential arrival of Azpilicueta could be linked to Sergino Dest’s future, too. Barca were open to offers for the United States international in January and his performances between now and the end of the season are likely to dictate his future at the club.
With Dani Alves suspended for the next two league games and not registered for the Europa League, Dest could feature in Barca’s next four matches, a double-header against Napoli in Europe and league games at local rivals Espanyol and Valencia.
Barca almost signed Alonso in January 2021 after he fell out of favour under Frank Lampard. However, the appointment of Thomas Tuchel and Barca’s failure to move on Junior Firpo mid-season ended negotiations.
Valencia’s Jose Gaya, who also has one year left on his terms, remains Barca’s top target to provide competition for Jordi Alba at left-back, though, ahead of Alonso.
Elsewhere, initial talks have also taken place regarding a move for Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, who’s in the final six months of his deal in Italy, although some sources suggest a deal is proving difficult. Other midfield options are also on the table.
Barca’s gross debt stood at around €1.4 billion when Laporta returned to the presidency last March, but a €500 million loan enabled them to redistribute that debt over a longer length of time, while they’ve also knocked a significant amount of money off the wage bill through player exits and salary reductions.
Philippe Coutinho agreed a substantial wage cut to join Aston Villa on loan, while Samuel Umtiti also took a hit to his immediate salary as part of a contract extension in January. That allowed Barca to make four signings last month, including spending €55m on Ferran Torres.
Meanwhile, the club hope to announce a new sponsorship deal with Spotify in the coming days, with several players also set to leave in the summer, all factors which would help raise funds for the signing of a top-level No. 9.