Barcelona are reportedly eyeing a move for Uruguayan forward Cristhian Stuani ahead of the summer transfer window.
According to a report from Spanish publication MARCA, Girona and Uruguay centre-forward Cristhian Stuani has emerged as a potential transfer target for La Liga champions Barcelona with the summer window looming.
Barcelona, despite being crowned the champions of Spain, had a disappointing end to the 2018-19 campaign as they crashed out of the UEFA Champions League semi-final at the hands of eventual champions Liverpool, while also getting beaten by Valencia in the Copa del Rey final.
This has cast major doubts on the future of manager Ernesto Valverde, but the transfer plans seem to be well underway at Camp Nou, as they look to strengthen their ranks ahead of the next season. The centre-forward position is one where a new signing is a must for the Blaugrana.
Barcelona have Luis Suarez as their primary striking option, but over the course of the last season, the Uruguayan has shown signs of age catching up with him, while injuries have also hampered him. Having sold the likes of Paco Alcacer and Munir El Haddadi, the Catalans lacked a viable backup for the former Liverpool man, which hurt them on occasions.
Barcelona did sign Kevin-Prince Boateng on loan in January, but he too failed to make much of an impact. With the Catalans unlikely to make his transfer permanent, a new striker has now become their top priority heading into the summer window.
Valencia’s Spanish forward Rodrigo Moreno had emerged as an option, but his €100 million valuation could prove to be a stumbling block for Barcelona. Moreover, shelling such huge amounts for a backup option would be far from ideal as well, which is why they seem to have turned their attention to Stuani.
The 32-year-old striker has spent a major part of his professional career in Spain, playing for the likes of Albacete, Levante, Racing Santander and Espanyol, before having a two-year stint with English club Middlesbrough, where he helped them to promotion to the Premier League in 2015-16.
Stuani left Boro to join Girona in 2017 and has been in prolific form in the past couple of seasons. The 2017-18 campaign saw the 32-year-old plunder 21 goals from 33 La Liga matches and he has followed it up with another solid season, netting 19 times from 32 league outings.
Stuani signed a new contract with Girona in February, extending his stay till 2022, but has hinted at a possible summer exit. Speaking in an interview recently, as quoted by MARCA, he said: “I haven’t spoken to Girona, we haven’t sat down. I’ve scored a lot of goals and it’s striking. There are clubs who like me and that’s a compliment.”
The 32-year-old Stuani is more likely to accept a backup role to Suarez than Rodrigo, while costing much lesser than the Valencia man, making him an appealing prospect for Barcelona. It remains to be seen, however, if the reigning champions press ahead with his pursuit.