Sources: Barca eye Neves despite Xavi objections

Barcelona president Joan Laporta is making progress on a deal to sign Ruben Neves even though coach Xavi Hernandez prefers other targets to the Wolves midfielder, sources have told ESPN.

Neves, 26, was of interest to Barca last summer and has emerged as an option once again following Sergio Busquets’ announcement that he will leave the Catalan club when his contract expires in the summer.

However, the move is the subject of an internal debate at Camp Nou. Laporta, who maintains a close relationship with Neves’ agent Jorge Mendes, is keen to bring in the Portugal international, but Xavi is unconvinced he is a fit for his style of play.

Real Sociedad‘s Martin Zubimendi is Xavi’s first choice option but a deal has been effectively ruled out with the club wanting an offer of €70 million. Zubimendi was also lined up last summer in the event that Frenkie de Jong joined Manchester United.

Fiorentina’s Sofyan Amrabat, meanwhile, who starred at the World Cup with Morocco, was close to joining Barca in January and sources have told ESPN the Catalan club could move for him again in the summer.

Amrabat, 26, is out of contract with Fiorentina in 2024, but ESPN sources said while the player would love to join Barca, the LaLiga leaders’ interest has waned in recent weeks. Laporta, therefore, will continue to work on a deal for Neves, who is also moving into the final 12 months of this contract.

Mendes, who represents a handful of Barca players and helped them take Adama Traore on loan from Wolves last January, could play a key role in keeping the cost of any transfer down as Barca grapple with the Spanish league’s financial fair play regulations.

They are unable to register the new contracts given to Gavi and Ronald Araujo, among others, due to being in excess of their spending limit. Vice president Eduard Romeu has said the club are confident of overcoming those hurdles, though, after submitting a viability plan for the next two years to LaLiga detailing cutbacks and revenue increases.

“It is a two year plan and it is very conservative,” Romeu told Diario Sport on Friday. “I am sure it will be approved. On May 19, LaLiga’s financial committee will meet and I am certain we will have a positive response.

“The first thing will then be to register the [new contracts] and then it will be like the metro. For players to come in, others will have to leave, all the while working with the coaching staff’s needs.”

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