Premier League

Barcelona rule out making ‘dream’ signing because of cost

Xavi Hernandez

Barcelona have accepted they won’t be able to afford ‘dream’ signing Martin Zubimendi this summer, reports in Spain say.

The 25-year-old’s reputation at Real Sociedad has soared over the past few years, at a time when the club have elevated themselves from Europa League regulars to appearing in this season’s Champions League.

90min revealed on Friday that Arsenal and manager Mikel Arteta have also been keen on defensive midfielder Zubimendi for the past two transfer windows, but there’s been no inclination that the player is yet ready to leave Real Sociedad – a club he joined in 2011 at the age of 12.

Barcelona are known long-term admirers of Zubimendi and have regularly been linked with a move despite their crippling debts. But they have been acutely aware – as have Arsenal and other suitors Bayern Munich – that Real Sociedad are not prepared to sell for less than the €60m release clause written into the five-cap international’s contract, which runs until 2027.

Spanish publication SPORT report that Barcelona’s sporting director, Deco, met with the representatives of Zubimendi on Monday, where it was made clear that he’s one of the Catalan giants’ top targets alongside Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich.

But it was also reaffirmed that Barcelona simply cannot afford to do a deal for Zubimendi, unless their financial situation drastically changes this summer.

Xavi Hernandez

Xavi Hernandez wants to freshen things up after an up and down season with Barcelona / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

It’s clear that Barcelona are prepared to sell players in order to strengthen their squad, yet it remains to be seen exactly who will be leaving Xavi’s side in order to facilitate change and a tilt at next season’s La Liga title.

Robert Lewandowski, Frenkie de Jong, Ronald Araujo and Raphinha are four big-name players to have been touted for moves elsewhere, in addition to teenage wonderkid Lamine Yamal, who is thought to be ‘the attacking priority’ for beaten Champions League semi-finalists Paris Saint-Germain.

One thing Barcelona may cling on to is that Zubimendi won’t be competing in next season’s Champions League, with Real Sociedad not hitting the same heights as they were able to achieve in 2022/23.

However SPORT’s report stresses that Xavi is desperate to bring in a new anchor midfielder – a factor that may see the club move on to more affordable options despite their strong admiration for Zubimendi.

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