Barcelona are reportedly looking at Levante’s Aitor Fernandez as an option to bolster their goalkeeping department in the ongoing summer transfer window.
According to a report from Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona have set their sights on Levane’s 30-year-old goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez as a potential replacement for current second-choice custodian, Neto.
Fernandez came through the ranks at Athletic Bilbao but never made a first-team appearance for the Basque outfit before moving to Villarreal, where he featured just for the B team only. After a two-year stint with lower-division outfit Numancia, the goalkeeper signed for Levante in the summer of 2018 and has made a solid impression.
To date, Fernandez has made 88 appearances for Levante, and while he may have kept just 11 clean sheets, the 30-year-old has impressed with his reflexes and shot-stopping ability, particularly standing out in the 2019/20 term, when he made a league-high 158 saves at an average of 4.39 per game, with a success rate of 76%.
This past season, though, Fernandez’s game time was reduced due to the emergence of Dani Cardenas, but the 30-year-old remains to be held in high regard at Levante and has now emerged as a transfer target for Barcelona. The Catalans have Marc-Andre ter Stegen as their undisputed first-choice, but might need a new stopper as cover for the German international.
Neto, who has been performing the role for two years, has his heart set on a summer exit, with Arsenal emerging as a potential destination for the Brazilian. Barcelona have youngster Inaki Pena ready to step up to the role of the No. 2 at Camp Nou, but the club are wary of putting him under too much pressure as there is a chance that Ter Stegen could miss the early parts of the season after undergoing surgery.
That would mean Pena would have to be the first-choice at the start of the campaign with several important games coming up. In order to avoid such a scenario, the Blaugrana are looking at more experienced options, with ex-star Jordi Masip a target, along with Levante’s Fernandez.
The 30-year-old still has two years left on his contract with the La Liga outfit but could be allowed to leave as Levante need to make some wage cuts to comply with La Liga’s Fair Play rules, thus opening up a window of opportunity for Barcelona to swoop in. It now remains to be seen if the Catalans decide to go after Fernandez or Masip, or back youngster Pena to come good.