Barcelona ‘view Fulham’s Joao Palhinha as the ideal Sergio Busquets replacement’… but Fulham’s £90m asking price could scupper the move
Barcelona have reportedly identified Fulham’s Portuguese midfielder Joao Palhinha as an ideal replacement for the recently departed Sergio Busquets.
The LaLiga champions are scouring the transfer market for a midfield figurehead capable of filling the void left by long-standing servant Busquets after he decided to leave Europe and join former team-mate Lionel Messi at Inter Miami.
Mail Sport exclusively revealed that Palhinha will be allowed to leave Fulham but only if their £90million valuation is met amid interest from West Ham.
The Hammers are moving closer to sanctioning a sale for Declan Rice with Manchester City and Arsenal fighting for the Englishman’s signature and will use funds from his sale to bring in a new midfield starter.
Palhinha has been earmarked as that player, but Barcelona could attempt to hijack any deal with the club’s sporting director Deco an admirer of the defensive talent, according to Spanish outlet Sport.
Barcelona are reportedly interested in pursuing a deal for Fulham midfielder Joao Palhinha
Fulham apparently consider Palhinha as the ideal replacement for the departed Sergio Busquets (pictured)
Catalan boss Xavi has reportedly made overhauling his midfield a priority during the off-season, with Ilkay Gundogan’s move from Manchester City kick-starting the re-build, and Palhinha potentially following close behind.
The 27-year-old is particularly well-liked by the Spanish giants for his ball retention, distribution, and ability to break up opposition attacks.
Such is their prestigious admiration, Deco has apparently personally endorsed a move to club officials for the Fulham star following a standout season at Craven Cottage.
Palhinha only moved to Fulham last summer in a £15million deal from Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon and quickly showed that his talents should have demanded a significantly larger transfer fee.
He made more tackles than any other player in the Premier League last season (147) as Fulham narrowly missed out on securing European football and was a constant thorn for opposition attacks to overcome.
However, he also received more yellow cards than anyone else (14).
Palhinha won’t come cheap after Fulham named a £90m asking price for the midfielder
Barcelona sporting director Deco (right) has recommended Palhinha to the club’s board
However, Palhinha has four years with the option to extend for another year left on his existing deal at Fulham and that could prove to be an obstacle for cash-strapped Barcelona.
It has been well-documented that they need to sell players to raise more funds given their financial crisis and are unlikely to be in a position to fork out the close to £100m that Fulham are demanding.
A cheaper option may be to pursue Benfica’s Florentino Luis who has also been referred to the Barcelona board by Deco.