Barcelona have reportedly expanded their midfield wishlist to include another Manchester United backup after recently looking at Donny van de Beek as well.
Van de Beek has been tipped to reunite with ex-Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman at Camp Nou recently. He has struggled for gametime in Manchester and Barcelona want a reinforcement in the middle of the park. But they are now looking at a different opportunity from Man Utd, it seems.
According to The Sun, Barcelona are now asking for updates about Nemanja Matic. The Serbia international is out of contract in 2023 and a renewal looks unlikely at the age of 33.
The tall midfielder has represented United in 165 matches, but could be approaching the end of his time at Old Trafford. This season, he has started three of United’s opening eight Premier League games.
Fred and Scott McTominay remain Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s preferred starting duo in the double pivot. In addition, that area seems to be the one United are most likely to strengthen at the next opportunity in the transfer market.
In that case, Matic would fall further down the pecking order and may have to consider his options. Barcelona are aware of this and believe he could be a useful addition.
Due to their desperate financial situation, Barca cannot afford huge signings. However, they still need to find some way to strengthen after a start to the La Liga season that can be described as mixed at best.
Therefore, Matic could be a low-cost opportunity bearing in mind his age and the lack of time remaining on his contract. They believe they can take him for less than £10m and accommodate his £140,000-per-week wages.
Barcelona would likely wait until the summer of 2022 to negotiate a deal, rather than mid-season in January. Therefore, it seems Matic will see out a fifth full season in Manchester before deciding his future.
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It remains to be seen whether a deal for van de Beek could still be on the cards in January. However, that too seems unlikely after Solskjaer decided it would be best to keep as many options as possible right through the final weeks of the season.
The Man Utd boss, who is now under pressure again, reportedly has concerns that he overused some players late last season. To avoid a repeat, he wants to keep a full squad until the summer.
Therefore, if Barcelona need a short-term reinforcement, they may have to look elsewhere in the winter. But in the summer, Matic in particular will seemingly be on the agenda.
Both he and van de Beek have been named as potential casualties as United look to make room for the signing of someone like Declan Rice. But whether Barcelona will be the takers will only become clear in time.
Another link between Barcelona and Man Utd
In addition to van de Beek and Matic, a more prominent member of the United first team has also been linked with Barcelona.
Claims recently emerged from ESPN that Barca have been offered the chance to sign Paul Pogba.
The French midfielder is out of contract at the end of the season. It would be a major financial commitment for United to renew his contract.
Even so, hope remains that Pogba will sign a new deal. But until he puts pen to paper, he will continue to be the subject of speculation.
Agent Mino Raiola is reportedly sounding out Europe’s top clubs, including Barca. They would be able to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with him from New Year’s Day.
But Barca may not be able to afford the commission Raiola would want as part of a deal. Pogba’s own wages would also be excessive for the Catalan club.
Therefore, they are more likely to look at more affordable options, even if Pogba wouldn’t come with a transfer fee.