Manchester United defender Daley Blind has emerged as a surprise target for La Liga champions Barcelona, as manager Luis Enrique looks to strengthen his defence ahead of the next season.
With Argentine defender Javier Mascherano on the verge of a move to Serie A champions Juventus, Barcelona will be in the market for a ball-playing centre-back this summer.
Meanwhile, Manchester United, who have just hired Jose Mourinho as their new manager, will be preparing for a squad overhaul to allow the Portuguese to build a competitive squad for next season. The likes of Juan Mata and Memphis Depay have reportedly been put on the transfer market along with Dutchman Daley Blind.
Barcelona director Robert Fernandez seems to have found a perfect replacement for the outgoing Mascherano. According to Sport, the Catalans have increased their interest in Blind, who was operating as a centre-back at Manchester United last season under Louis van Gaal. The Red Devils managed to keep 18 clean sheets in the 2015/16 Premier League season with Blind and Chris Smalling as their central defensive partnership.
However, the €18 million-rated Blind has himself said that he would like to fight for his place under Mourinho, who is said to prefer a more physical presence in the heart of the defence.
“I will just give my all and work hard. Mourinho is a manager who has achieved a lot and I am keen to work with him,” Blind was quoted as saying by Dutch publication NOS. “I might not be as big as Pepe
Perfect fit for Barcelona style
Barcelona are not the type of team that will look for the traditional centre-back — a big, strong player who hooves the ball out of the danger area at every opportunity. Instead, the Catalan giants will look for defenders who can think with the ball at their feet and play it out to the midfielders as the team looks to build their attacks from defence.
Blind is a player who can operate as a centre-back, a left fullback and as a defensive midfielder, which means that the Dutchman is quite comfortable on the ball. To add to that, he has been brought up on a footballing philosophy that is similar to that of Barcelona at Ajax. These attributes make Blind the perfect central defensive candidate for the Catalans.