FC Barcelona are preparing themselves for the eventuality of Neymar leaving the Camp Nou. The Catalan club has drawn up a list of attacking players, that includes Chelsea forward Eden Hazard and Manchester City’s prolific play maker Kevin de Bruyne
Brazilian forward Neymar has been engaged in prolonged negotiations with Barcelona over signing a new contract, as his current deal expires in 2018.
Speculation has been rife that this is because he is considering a move away from the Catalan giants, with Real Madrid and Manchester United willing to break the bank to sign the 24 year old striker. Both Real and Man United are ready to trigger Neymar’s €190 million buy-out clause, which would leave Barcelona helpless to stop him from leaving.
According to Goal, Barca have drawn up a short-list of possible replacements for Neymar. The list includes Chelsea star Eden Hazard and Manchester City’s prolific play maker Kevin de Bruyne.
The Belgian forwards are the most highly rated of the five players Barca are looking at. The list also includes Paulo Dybala from Juventus, Douglas Costa of Bayern Munich and a familiar foe in Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann.
Eden Hazard seems to be the likeliest target
A deal for Antoine Griezmann seems highly unlikely, given that he has signed a new contract with Atletico. Although, it is likely that other players might want to swtich to the Cataln club, driven by Barcelona’s elite status in world football.
However, considering the clout of financially powerful clubs like Bayern Munich and Manchester City, Kevin de Bruyne and Douglas Costa, who have only recently joined thier respective clubs, are also unlikely to join Barcelona.
Juventus have just lost Spaniard Alvaro Morata and have already rejected a bid by Barcelona for their other star striker Paulo Dybala, with the player himself expressing his desire to stay in Turin.
This leaves none other than Belgian Eden Hazard, who had previously stoked the transfer rumors with his statements about Real Madrid and PSG, as the most liekly replacemnt of Neymar. It also remains to be seen how he’ll fit in at Chelsea under Antonio Conte, with the Italian manager preferring a 3-5-2 formation with the deployment of wing-backs rather than wingers.
Hazard has had a poor season with Chelsea in 2015-16, but remains one of the most highly rated young players in football. Should Neymar choose to depart, then all indicators point to the fact that Barca will make Hazard their top transfer target.