Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund have joined Barcelona in pursuit of Juventus’ highly-rated defender Pol Lirola, who is currently on loan at US Sassuolo.
According to Gabriel Sans of Mundo Deportivo, the Dortmund are the latest European giants to join the race for Lirola’s signature. They have reportedly begun negotiations for him and while they aren’t at an advanced stage, Die Borussen are said to be well ahead of their other contenders.
Lirola, who is also courting interest from Schalke 04, Red Bull Leipzig and the Premier League, is just one of the players on Blaugrana’s shortlist of alternatives to Hector Bellerin, as the 22-year-old remains Barcelona’s first choice target this summer.
Robert Fernandez, Barcelona Technical Secretary had enquired about Lirola’s availability this summer, in the event that they lure Bellerin to the Nou Camp. Their interest in Lirola isn’t newfound, as the Catalan giants were first said to be eyeing a move for the 19-year-old back in November.
The Catalonia born Lirola spent his formative years with Barcelona’s cross town rivals RCD Espanyol. He made his way through their youth ranks before being purchased by Juventus in the summer of 2015, after a successful 6-month loan stint prior to that.
He spent the entire 2015/16 season with Juventus’ U19 side, scoring 3 goals and providing 9 assists in 37 appearances across all competitions. Besides finishing atop of the youth league, they made it to 3 different cup finals but won only the Viareggio Cup against Palermo.
The following season, he was loaned out to US Sassuolo in order to gain some experience. He made his debut for the Neroverdi in their final UEFA Europa League qualifier against Red Star Belgrade and assisted a crucial goal for Domenico Berardi, which helped them qualify to the group stage.
Under Eusebio Di Francesco, he would go on to amass a total of 29 appearances, score 1 goal and assist 4. He would establish himself as their first choice right-back over the course of the season, despite suffering an injury which kept him out for over a month.
Lirola, who signed a new 4-year-contract last year with Juventus, still has another season left on his loan deal. However, it is unlikely that Juventus will cut his loan deal short and recall him from the Mapei Stadium, despite being short on options at right-back at the moment.
Dortmund already have the likes of Felix Passlack, Erik Durm and Lukasz Piszczek at right-back so the competition for a starting berth would be intense and opportunities would likely be limited. However, at Barcelona he would walk right into the starting XI at this point as they have do not have a proper right-back in the squad besides the injured Aleix Vidal.
So, Barcelona clearly have the advantage. As per the report, Lirola is expected to cost only a mere €10 million, a fee that both Barcelona and Dortmund could easily afford. However, the Serie A Champions will be wary of their interest and will surely look to charge far more for their young star.