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Xavi believes 21-year-old midfielder lacks the maturity to replace Busquets at Barcelona

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Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Barcelona are scouring the market for a new pivot midfielder who can replace departing club captain Sergio Busquets starting next season. However, the Catalans have had no luck so far in their efforts to secure a like-for-like top-quality replacement.

Martin Zubimendi of Real Sociedad has been identified as the most ideal candidate to take over from Busquets. But his €60 million release clause and his reluctance to leave La Real have seen a move become impossible.

Joshua Kimmich of Bayern Munich is another option, but his signing is also practically ruled out as the German champions have no desire to sell their prized asset.

Amidst this, SPORT is reporting that Barcelona academy graduate Nico Gonzalez could be a cost-free option for the club. However, Xavi and the staff do not see the 21-year-old as a pivot midfielder nor do they believe he is mature enough to replace Busquets and play that role in the team.

A product of the La Masia youth setup, Nico made his first-team breakthrough during the 2021/22 season under Ronald Koeman. However, once Xavi took over the reins, the youngster found himself being used more as a substitute than a starter.

As a result, Nico left Barça to join Valencia on loan for the 2022/23 season. Despite having had a few injury problems, he did fairly well in the 26 matches that he did play in, scoring and assisting one goal apiece.

Nico will be back at Barcelona for pre-season and as things stand, the Barcelona staff does not see him as an option to replace Busquets as the team’s midfield anchorman.

Furthermore, with plans to bring in a new interior midfielder, the 21-year-old might not find a place in the first-team setup at the club again, opening the door for another loan exit or a permanent departure.

Real Betis, for one, are interested in taking Nico on loan, an option that is understood to appeal to the youngster.

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