Barcelona have reportedly identified Lazio defender Luiz Felipe as a potential option to bolster their backline in the summer transfer window.
According to a report from Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona are interested in making a swoop for Lazio’s Brazilian centre-back, Luiz Felipe, when his contract with the Serie A giants expires at the end of the season.
Felipe came through the youth ranks at Brazilian outfit Ituano FC and moved to Europe in 2016 when he signed for Lazio. The 24-year-old was immediately loaned out to Salernitana for a season, and he made seven appearances before returning to Stadio Olimpico in 2017. Since coming back, he has been more or less a regular fixture in the side, racking up 126 appearances to date.
This season, Felipe has been an ever-present in the side when fit and available for selection, featuring in 22 matches across all competitions. However, his future with Maurizio Sarri’s side beyond the ongoing campaign has been called into question as he has entered the final year of his contract with the Biancocelesti.
Felipe’s contract situation has attracted interest from Barcelona, who are in the market for defensive reinforcements in the summer. The Catalan giants will need to bolster their backline next season as Gerard Pique is very much in the final phase of his career, whereas both Clement Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti are expected to leave Camp Nou either in January or at the end of the season.
With Eric Garcia still adapting to life back in Catalonia, it would bode well for Barcelona to bring in a slightly more experienced defender to partner with Ronald Araujo at the heart of the backline. A move for Juventus superstar Matthijs de Ligt continues to be mooted, but the finances might prevent the Blaugrana from landing the Netherlands international.
Chelsea defenders Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen have also been linked with a move to Camp Nou as they too will see their contracts expire at the end of the season. Now, Felipe, too, has emerged as an option for Barça as he will be a free agent come the summer transfer window.
With close to 100 appearances in Serie A, the Brazilian will add some degree of experience to the side, while at 24, he still has his best years in front of him. So, it will be interesting to see if Barcelona decide to open pre-contract talks with Felipe in January when he enters the last six months of his contract or choose to look at alternatives.