For the fifth transfer window running now, Barcelona are almost publicly interested in a striker. While new manager Xavi has found a grip on the playing style and creative output for the team, the lack of a finisher is constantly making things challenging.
Even when we take the last two games into consideration, for example – vs Granada and Real Madrid. Barcelona out-created their opponents in both games but had to settle for a draw and loss, respectively.
As such, several names have been linked with a move to the club in recent months for both the January and June transfer window. Erling Haaland, Alvaro Morata probably top the list for the summer and winter, respectively, while players like Edinson Cavani, Rodrigo Moreno, Luis Suarez, Dusan Vlahovic, and even Cristiano Ronaldo find themselves in the rumours.
However, according to Fichajes, Barcelona have joined the race to sign Stade de Reims centre-forward Hugo Ekitike. Only in his second season of senior football, the 19-year-old has taken Ligue 1 by storm with his eight goals and two assists in 17 games.
Comparision with Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe is an incredibly successful footballer despite being 23, having won all but one possible trophy in his career – the Champions League. He is so good, in fact, there are youngsters already being likened to him, including Ekitike.
The Reims striker has been compared to Mbappe for their playing style and early breaking season in the French league.
In his first season as a regular starter, the World Cup winner boasted of 15 goals and eight assists. If Ekitike continues on the same path this season, he could end up with nearly as many goal contributions.
The bar, however, is incredibly high. And the competition to sign him (like Mbappe in 2017) is fierce.
PSG, Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund, Newcastle ready to rival Barça
The report states that there are at least five teams chasing Ekitike’s signature. Apart from Barcelona, these happen to be Paris-Saint Germain, Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund, and Newcastle United.
PSG are always on the hunt for Ligue 1 gold and would want to replicate their success with Mbappe by signing Ekitike. Further, the Frenchman could prove to be just the replacement the league leaders need to replace his compatriot when (and if) he leaves them for free in the summer.
Sevilla, meanwhile, are on a similar goal drought this season as Barcelona. Rafa Mir and Youssef En-Nesyri have combined for just nine goals this season, as Julien Lopetegui’s men boast of the lowest scoring-record in the top 4.
As for Dortmund, the equation is quite simple. The German club is one of the best teams in the world to develop your game as a youngster, and Ekitike could serve as a direct substitution for the exit-bound Erling Haaland.
Newcastle are inarguably the club with the weakest player ‘pull’ in this race. They do gloat of the incredible financial muscle, however. After being overtaken by Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Magpies are among the wealthiest clubs in the continent now, and consequently, have been linked to every other player.
At the end of the day, though, the player’s asking price of €20 million probably meets all four clubs’ financial budget. That kind of money, for 14th-sitting Reims, is worth gold.