With Ex-Athletic Bilbao manager Ernesto Valverde taking the reins from Luis Enrique at Barcelona for the coming season, plans to bolster the squad in order to fight for the La Liga title next term have supposedly already begun.
Barca’s sporting director Robert Fernandez – according to Catalan Daily Sport, via Inside Futbol – has allegedly begun talks to potentially sign Chelsea’s highly adaptable Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta, should the Catalan giants fail to land their top priority being Arsenal’s flourishing Hector Bellerin in the summer.
Barcelona are keen to offer Valverde more defensive options in the coming campaign in order to shore up their back-line, and whilst Bellerin could offer exuberant cover on the right flank, Azpilicueta can play in virtually every role in-front of the 18-yard box.
The Spain international is able to deputise in the centre of a back three – a strategy which has proved fruitful for Antonio Conte’s Premier League champions in the 2016/17 season, a quality which makes Azpilicueta an assured target.
It’s also been noted that Valverde is a strong admirer of the Blues’ robust 27-year-old, and supposedly attempted to lure Azpilicueta to San Mames, during his stint at his former employers in the Basque country.
Fernandez will be hopeful that he can strike a deal in the imminent transfer window for his coveted services, although the Camp Nou-based Goliaths will not be without their rivals.
Manchester City are also said to be admirers of Chelsea’s number 28’s capabilities, but Chelsea are unlikely to sell such a formidable performer to a domestic rival, if at all.
The Londoners are believed to value their man at 30m euros, so Barca will certainly have to match the lofty figure, and potentially contend with Pep Guardiola for his prolific signature, if the Gunners deny a move for Bellerin, that is.