FC Barcelona seem to have lost interest in Sporting Lisbon forward Gelson Martins, even though the player can arrive at Camp Nou for free.
According to a report published by Spanish Publication Don Balon, Barcelona have withdrawn their interest to sign the 23-year-old Portuguese star Gelson Martins, as they were keeping an eye on him ever since they met Sporting Lisbon at the Camp Nou in the UEFA Champions League last season.
Martins, who had a breakthrough season with Sporting Lisbon in 2015/16, climbed up to the ranks in his team and has earned a regular starting spot in the lineup as the young Portuguese in 47 appearances amassed 11 goals and 9 assists across all competitions last season.
Even after having a remarkable season with Sporting Lisbon, Gelson is one of among the seven players – Rui Patricio, William Carvalho, Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Ribeiro, Bas Dost and Daniel Podence – who terminated their contracts with the club in a protest after the attacks on players and staff caused by a group of 50 fans in May. Gelson Martin’s present contract was valid till 2022.
The 23-year-old winger, who was already targeted by several clubs consisting Liverpool, Arsenal, Barcelona and Real Madrid since last year, surely signalled the concerned clubs to pursue the zero-cost transfer.
Therefore, after the announcement by Antoine Griezmann of his decision to stay at Atletico Madrid and dismissing all claims to a move to Barcelona, opened the gates for the pursuit of Gelson Martins by the Catalan club.
The ability of Gelson Martins to play out wide on the right wing may tempt Ernesto Valverde to sign him, as he lacks options on that side of attack for his 4-4-2 system. Last season he often utilised Phillippe Coutinho there, who was pretty ineffective while playing in that role, leaving Ousmane Dembele as the only option. Gelson’s astonishing dribbling skills and passing abilities make him a sensible Barcelona target.
But according to further claims by Don Balon, Lionel Messi, the biggest superstar at Camp Nou is influencing the club’s board to not sign the Portuguese midfielder as he reportedly doesn’t want more friends of his rival Cristiano Ronaldo at the club.
Considering he is already upset about the closeness between Andre Gomes and Ronaldo, which also bothers other Barcelona players. Hence, Barcelona have decided to withdraw their interest in Gelson, amid the influence of Lionel Messi.
It would not be incorrect to say that a move to Barcelona would have been a turning point in the career of Gelson, but Messi’s influence at the Nou Camp is barring a move for the youngster. However, interests from different European giants surely doesn’t leave him out of options, but it is likely that we have to wait till July to know where will he move this summer, as the youngster has joined Portugal’s 23-man squad for the World Cup in Russia.