Chelsea are ready to snap up a Barcelona wonderkid after another heavy blow for the Spanish titans, according to reports.
Barcelona are in deep financial trouble, with debts amounting to over £1billion. President Joan Laporta believes they can turn things around within 18 months, but that task is looking harder as we head towards the new year.
The Blaugrana have already lost Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain. He became a free agent in the summer as Barcelona could not afford to pay his huge wages.
Ronald Koeman left the Camp Nou on October 28 after a disappointing start to the campaign. Club legend Xavi is his replacement, although the former midfielder will need time to get them back to their best.
The club’s latest blow was a 3-0 defeat to Bayern in the Champions League group stage. That saw them fail to reach the knockout rounds for the first time in 17 years.
Sport Witness, citing reports in the Spanish press, state that the loss will have major implications for Barcelona. They look set to miss out on €20m (£17m) in revenue by being unable to reach the UCL’s round of 16.
Xavi’s men will be favourites to win the Europa League, but that will not top up their funds sufficiently.
Chelsea target Everton's Lucas Digne
Chelsea could target Lucas Digne after Benitez fall out.
The report claims that Barca will have to consider selling some of their best academy graduates to improve finances. Kopa Trophy winner Pedri is off limits, but Nico Gonzalez or Gavi could be available.
The latter is a target for Chelsea. They appear to be leading the race for his services, and may aim to tempt Barca with a significant financial package.
The central midfielder is one of the most highly rated youngsters in Spain. He is on 19 appearances for Barca at the age of 17.
Tuchel reacts to worrying Chelsea form
Meanwhile, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel has been speaking about his team’s dip in form. Chelsea’s only win in their last four matches was a tight 2-1 victory over Watford.
They will be looking to arrest that run when Leeds visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
Ahead of the game, Tuchel said: “For me it is about the last three games.
“The way we played was like I said the first time, I had a feeling we were not ready to play Watford and match their intensity. We escaped with a win and managed to grow on an acceptable level.
“West Ham was, a very good first half and an OK second half, but a terrible result for us.
“We had a lot of changes then let a lead slip through our fingers in the very last minute [versus Zenit St Petersburg].
“If you have the lead four times in two matches and you escape with one point and six goals conceded, it is not the time to look away and pretend nothing is happening.”