Barcelona are reportedly lining up moves for Ander Herrera and Riyad Mahrez as a backup plan if they fail to land Marco Verratti this summer.
Spanish publication Sport have reported that Barcelona have started laid the contingency plan in the case they fail to sign Marco Verratti in the summer transfer window. The Catalan club are weighing up moves for two Premier League players – Manchester United’s Ander Herrera and Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez.
Barcelona have been in hot pursuit of Verratti for several weeks now, as Ernesto Valverde seeks to strengthen his options in midfield. However, there are several complications in their bid to sign the Italian midfielder from PSG, with the price tag a big stumbling block.
While the 24-year-old continues to remain the Catalan club’s top priority for the summer transfer window, a possible move hinges largely on him reporting for pre-season training with PSG on July 4. Should Verratti do so, Barcelona will end their interest in him and turn their attention to Plan B.
If Marco Verratti stays at PSG, Barcelona will move to plan B, with Riyad Mahrez and Ander Herrera leading the shortlist. (Source: SPORT) pic.twitter.com/TEUz9iHWYW
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Their focus then turns towards recruiting a creative midfielder and a goalscoring winger. And the names identified as viable targets are two Premier League players, who have been on Barcelona’s wishlist for a while now – Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera and Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez.
In fact, Herrera has previously worked under Valverde, when both of them were at Athletic Bilbao. The 27-year-old had played a key role in Valverde’s side as they finished 4th in La Liga in the 2013/14 season. He subsequently joined Manchester United in the summer of 2014, and he hasn’t looked back since.
While there have been a few hiccups for Herrera during his first two seasons at Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho’s arrival has reignited his Manchester United career. The player has evolved into one of the most complete midfielders in the Premier League and is now an indispensable figure for the Red Devils.
The recently concluded season was a successful one for Herrera as he made a staggering 50 appearances in all competitions for Manchester United, with a respectable return of 2 goals and 11 assists. With midfield being a huge concern for Valverde, Herrera could potentially become a top addition at Camp Nou.
Meanwhile, Mahrez endured a below par campaign with Leicester after guiding them to the league title in 2015/16. The Algerian winger experienced a major slump in form in 2016/17 as Leicester relinquished the Premier League title in disastrous fashion.
— Arsenal TSN (@ArsenalTSN) June 28, 2017
The player, however, rediscovered his best touch during the latter stages of the campaign to end the season with 7 goals and 10 assists in 48 appearances. Mahrez’s spell at Leicester, though, is set to come to an end this summer as he has handed a transfer request to the club and is now seeking pastures anew.
Barcelona are now set to battle Arsenal, who are also seeking a summer move for the player, to secure his services. Widespread reports have claimed that Lionel Messi could move into a deeper role next season, which could open up a place on the right wing.
Should the aforementioned be the case in the forthcoming season, Mahrez could become a viable solution on the right side of attack for Barcelona. At Arsenal, meanwhile, he could be a replacement for Alexis Sanchez, who looks set to depart from the Emirates this summer.
The report claims that Mahrez is likely to cost €35 million, while Herrera would command a fee of €40 million. But, while a move for the Algerian attacker would be relatively straightforward, Manchester United are likely to be unwilling to let go of Herrera. It now remains to be seen if Barcelona are able to land the duo this summer.