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Barcelona eye Argentine star as cheaper alternative for Xavi’s preferred midfield target

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Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

At this point, it is well-established that Barcelona are in the market for a new pivot midfielder as Sergio Busquets is set to bid goodbye to the team at the end of the season.

The veteran midfielder’s contract expires at the end of the season and he has no intentions of signing a new deal, meaning he will move on in the summer as a free agent.

With the vacancy set to be created, Barça have been linked with a host of midfield options. However, Martin Zubimendi of Real Sociedad has emerged as the preferred candidate for manager Xavi Hernandez.

The 23-year-old, however, comes with a massive release clause of €60 million which is likely to make things difficult for the Blaugrana given their tricky financial situation.

Hence, according to ARA, Barcelona are now looking at Real Betis midfield mainstay Guido Rodriguez as a possible cost-effective alternative for Zubimendi.

The 28-year-old has been with the Verdiblancos since January 2020 when he arrived from Mexican side Club America. He has been a permanent fixture in the middle of the park for Real Betis under Manuel Pellegrini.

Even though he has largely operated as a part of a double pivot for Betis, Barcelona coaching staff believe that the Argentina international can operate as a lone pivot at the base of the midfield.

Rodriguez is contracted with the La Liga club until 2024 and has a greater release clause than that of Zubimendi, with the amount standing at €80 million. However, with Real Betis facing problems with salary cap and Financial Fair Play, they would be willing to negotiate a lower fee for the 28-year-old.

Barcelona have other options like Ruben Neves and Jorginho, but the coaching staff are not entirely convinced about the pair while N’Golo Kante’s option is seen as financially difficult due to the signing bonus he is likely to demand.

Rodri of Manchester City is said to be another player on the radar, but his signing is seen as impossible.

With Zubimendi signing a new contract at Real Sociedad, negotiating with them could be a tricky issue. But, as far as Guido is concerned, he will enter the final year of his contract in 2023 and Real Betis’ financial problems give Barça leverage and room to negotiate a lower fee.

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