Premier League • England

Xavi sets up Barcelona raid for resurgent Chelsea star to fill major tactical void

Jonny Whitfield
Barcelona manager Xavi, November 2021

Barcelona manager Xavi sees Chelsea duo Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner as alternative transfer options to resolve a key tactical problem at the club, a report has claimed.

Barca are in the midst of trying to stop a decline in recent seasons, hence Xavi’s arrival at the helm. The former midfielder made his name at the club and is now looking to make more history there as a coach.

Following his move from Qatar-based club Al-Sadd, the new boss has had links with players including their striker Baghdad Bounedjah, to solve a lack of goals.

Hoever, ESPN has reported that Xavi’s other priority is to add width to his attack. Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling has been his prime target on that front. What’s more, the Englishman has reportedly asked to move to the Catalan club.

Barcelona are seeking an initial loan deal in January with an option to buy for a new wide player amid their financial troubles. However, City are demanding an obligational purchase clause for Sterling.

As such, Barcelona want to try their luck with Ziyech and Werner from Chelsea, ESPN adds.

They have therefore asked Chelsea about the availability of both players ahead of the January transfer window.

Neither Ziyech nor Werner have proved to be regular starters since they arrived at Stamford Bridge in summer 2020. Indeed, their links with transfers away are a consequence of their lack of game time.

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Werner has been more heavily linked with a move back to Germany, where he starred for RB Leipzig. Ziyech has impressed when he has featured, but injuries have hampered his progress.

Nevertheless, boss Thomas Tuchel insisted earlier this month that Ziyech remains a crucial part of his plans.

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On Tuesday, he put in a fantastic display to help Chelsea beat Juventus 4-0 in the Champions League.

Werner, meanwhile, returned from injury to make a substitute appearance against the Turin club.

Tuchel backs Ziyech, Chelsea role

Hakim Ziyech, Chelsea winger in Champions League action against Malmo

Tuchel said recently of Ziyech: “At the moment here in Cobham there are no thoughts about his future. There are no thoughts about a potential change, swap deal or whatever in the winter. I have talked to nobody about that here in Cobham.

“Hakim was not in my office expressing a wish like this so right now, he is a full member of the squad.

“He is an important guy, a very talented guy, a very ambitious guy, and he’s a full part of our squad. He was last season, he is this season and we expect the very best of him all the time.

“But it’s tough competition. I cannot let everybody play all the time 90 minutes, it’s simply impossible.”

Chelsea return to action on Sunday when facing Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.