La Liga giants Barcelona are coming off from what has been labelled as an utterly disappointing season.
A second-place finish in the Spanish top-flight, semi-final elimination in the Champions League and only Copa del Rey trophy to boast with after the 2016-17 campaign might be good enough of a record for any other Spanish club, but it is an underachievement under the standards set by the Catalan side.
Heading into the new season with the new manager Ernesto Valverde who has replaced Luis Enrique at helm, Barcelona are making ambitious plans for the summer as the Camo Nou club is eyeing high-quality recruits to bolster the squad with.
The Catalans want to compete for major honours and currently stand as favourites at 10/11 betting odds to lift the la Liga trophy.
There is one name that sticks out among all of the potential summer targets though.
The Italian midfield maestro Marco Verratti, one of key men at Paris Saint-Germain who played a major part in his team’s memorable 4-0 Champions League triumph over Barcelona earlier in the season.
The Catalans have identified Verratti as their top summer target and are willing to go the extra mile to land the diminutive dynamo, but the Parisians are holding their ground firmly and are for now refusing to budge.
Barcelona are putting plenty of off-field pressure on the French side as well with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu labelling Marco Verratti a ‘prisoner’ and insisting that the Italian international wants to leave Paris for Barcelona.
Having helped PSG conquer France with four of the last five Ligue 1 titles, Verratti is keen to make the next step in his career and test his skills among some of the best players in the world. The Italian is seen as a direct replacement for ageing Andres Iniesta and a perfect substitution to the celebrated Spanish international.
Even though they are unwilling to give up on their pursuit of Marco Verratti, Barcelona are believed to have prepared a potential list of other midfield targets which, according to the Spanish outlet Marca, includes five other men.
The Spanish Under-21 international Dani Ceballos is believed to be the first name below Verratti on the summer transfer list. Real Betis star hit the stage in Poland with a string of impressive displays for Spain during the Under-21 European Championship.
The Spanish starlet is seen as a sure deal for Real Madrid, but the Catalans are exploring an option to snap the player in front of their fierce rivals and inflict a heavy blow to Los Blanco’s attempts to land the player.
The 20-year-old Spaniard made 24 La Liga appearances last season, scoring two goals and recording as many assists.
Former Tottenham man Paulinho has emerged as somewhat surprising transfer target for Barcelona.
The Catalans have already made an approach for the Guangzhou Evergrande midfielder but have seen their €20 million offer rejected and are expected to make another push in attempt to land the Brazilian international.
Paulinho has played 14 games in the Chinese Super League this season racking 6 goals and 2 assists to his name.
Absolute fan favourite at Old Trafford and a relentless fighter in Jose Mourinho’s Europa League winning side Ander Herrera has also been added to the list of potential summer signings.
Former Athletic Bilbao midfielder has enjoyed a stellar season at Old Trafford receiving widespread praise of his work rate, commitment and spirit wearing a Red Devils shirt. The majority of the fans are calling for him to be rewarded with a captain’s armband once Wayne Rooney leaves the club for Everton and it appears that the 27-year-old Spaniard would be almost as impossible to catch as Verratti.
Herrera made 31 competitive outings for Manchester United last season, scoring one goal in the league.
Jean Michael Seri
The 25-year-old Nice midfielder has been another one of the highly-rated footballers who has sparked a great load of speculation this summer.
Linked with a move to Arsenal among other clubs, Serie has been identified as an outside favourite for Barcelona. Although he is not the first name Ernesto Valverde is looking at, talented Seri would come as a valuable addition to any squad, Barcelona’s included.
The Ivory Coast international took part in 34 Ligue 1 matches for Nice last season. He scored 7 goals and provided 9 assists during that time.
Arguably the biggest surprise on the list is Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu.
Former Barcelona graduate started his professional career at Camp Nou and went on to make a single first-team appearance before moving to Chelsea in 2011. The 25-year-old Spaniard struggled to live up to the high expectations that have been following his throughout the career and a potential return to Barcelona could be seen as a big break in his career and a potential shot for redemption.
The 25-year-old midfielder made 35 Premier League appearances for Southampton last season, scoring a single goal in the process and failing to provide any assists.
Who do you think Barca should go for instead of Marco Verratti?
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