Barcelona are so strong in their desire to land a Liverpool and Manchester United-linked midfielder that they are prepared to sacrifice a club legend to facilitate a deal, per a report.
The Spanish giant remain in dire straits with regards to their financial position. The club’s gargantuan debts ensured several major names were sold off over the summer, while a new contract for Lionel Messi could not be ratified.
As such, Barcelona have mainly had to make do with free agent acquisitions the likes of Memphis Depay and former Man City pair, Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia.
Now, according to Spanish outlet El Nacional, Ronald Koeman’s side have their sights set on another free agent.
AC Milan enforcer Franck Kessie is in the final year of his deal at the San Siro. The combative midfielder, 24, showed a new side to his game last season when bagging 14 goals in all competitions.
He was an integral part of Milan’s surge to second in Serie A, though widespread reports have suggested they are failing in their quest to convince him to pen fresh terms.
Liverpool were linked with the Ivory Coast battler on Tuesday. His all-action style would seem to mesh with Jurgen Klopp’s demands, though the Reds aren’t alone in their admiration.
Manchester United were also credited with interest. Kessie could be the ideal upgrade to their much-maligned midfield. Additionally, he could be a direct replacement for Paul Pogba if the Frenchman leaves on a free.
But per El Nacional (via Goal), Barcelona cannot be discounted from the race. And to help secure their future they are reportedly willing to sell Sergio Busquets to free up both squad space and salary.
Busquets, 33, has only ever called Barcelona home since making his senior debut in 2008. He remains an elite performer despite his age. Busquets recently scooped the UEFA Nationals League Player of the Tournament only two days ago.
But given Barcelona’s financial predicament, sacrifices must be made. And if the report is accurate, Busquets could be axed to make room for a younger and newer model.
Ronaldo ramifications prompt January exit calls
Meanwhile, a pundit has highlighted one specific Manchester United player as the biggest victim of Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford, and urged him to seek a January exit to save his international career.
Despite being 36, Ronaldo has already made several telling contributions on the pitch. However, his return has also ruffled feathers in the forward ranks, most notably shunting Edinson Cavani down the order.
His lack of domestic game-time has also begun to seep into the international arena. For their recent World Cup qualifier defeat to Argentina, Cavani was chosen to start from the bench.
As such, fellow countryman, Gus Poyet, believes a January exit may be required to salvage his international career.
“He was unlucky, because without Ronaldo coming in, he was playing as the main striker,” Poyet told talkSPORT (via the Sun).
“The decision of Juventus, Man City getting involved, incredibly went against one person especially – and that was Cavani. Maybe he should move in January.
“From the outside, I don’t know him. But if I was him, seeing how things are now, and seeing him not getting to 90 minutes for the national team because he’s not playing – maybe.”