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Barcelona have reportedly offered €65 million plus Ivan Rakitic to try to convince Paris Saint-Germain to sell Marco Verratti. If the Blaugrana can’t strike a deal for Verratti, they will pursue Tottenham Hotspur star Dele Alli, per reports from Spain.
Verratti appears to remain the Camp Nou club’s main target, though. Italian source Calciomercato.com (h/t Sport) has revealed how Barca are willing to use Rakitic plus cash to get a deal done.
There is optimism such a deal will be good enough, per the reports: “That deal will, in theory, be enough for Al-Khelaifi to give Barcelona the nod to sign the Italian international. Calciomercato acknowledge the great relationship Unai Emery has with Rakitic, forged when they were both at Sevilla.”
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The reference to PSG boss Unai Emery is significant. His time at Sevilla saw Croatia international Rakitic become a UEFA Europa League winner before he moved to the Camp Nou in 2014.
Rakitic remains a key figure in the Barca squad, even if he hasn’t quite replaced Xavi Hernandez as the fulcrum of midfield. In truth, Rakitic is a different player to the man he replaced three years ago. He is less a pass-master and more a box-to-box contributor who is often most effective in forward areas.
This style makes Rakitic a better fit for the counter-attack style Emery favours rather than the possession-based game preached at Barca. Barcelona’s adherence to a pass-heavy style is no doubt why Verratti remains such a prime target.
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The Italy international is disciplined, efficient and technically sound on the ball. He rarely wastes possession and is capable of conducting the flow of play in any match.
Yet convincing PSG to sell has proved tricky for Barcelona this summer. Indeed, the player himself reportedly has doubts about the move and won’t force his way out of the French capital, per Spanish source Diario Gol (h/t Bruce Archer of the Daily Express).
Earlier this month, Verratti issued an apology, relayed on the PSG official Twitter account, after his agent, Donato Di Campli, told Corrierre dello Sport (h/t Sport) the player was “a prisoner of Emir”:
PSG English @PSG_English
A word from Marco Verratti 🔴🔵 https://t.co/f9cfSCpW1t
The subsequent apology and indication he would stay was an apparent about turn after French publication L’Equipe (h/t Matt Spiro of beIN Sports) reported back in June Verratti was considering taking action to force PSG’s hand:
Matt Spiro @mattspiro
Verratti situation may turn ugly… He’s asked lawyers about consequences if he refuses to report for pre-season #PSG #Barcelona (L’Equipe)
Barca including players in any bid for Verratti could be a last-ditch attempt to finally get this deal over the line.
Yet if Barcelona can’t sign Verratti, they will focus on Alli, according to Diario Gol (h/t Jack Otway of the Sunday Express).
The reports revealed key figures at the club, including new manager Ernesto Valverde, want Alli at the Camp Nou: “It has previously been reported that both Lionel Messi and Neymar would love Barcelona to sign the 21-year-old. Valverde supposedly thinks the midfielder can bring excitement back to Catalonia after their inconsistent season under Luis Enrique last time out.”
Alli’s eye for goal and natural technique would no doubt be assets in Barcelona. He scored 22 times and provided seven assists for Tottenham last season, per WhoScored.com.
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Despite Alli’s obvious quality, Barca’s greater need is for a playmaker as consistent and astute as Verratti. Making a transfer happen for the Azzurri star should remain Valverde’s priority.