Arsenal and Barcelona will battle for the signature of €80 million Premier League midfielder next summer.
Finding a replacement for Sergio Busquets, who appears destined to leave the club when his contract expires, will be Barcelona’s top priority for the upcoming season.
The Spaniard has been considering a move to the MLS for some time, and sources indicate that if it weren’t for the World Cup this year, he likely would have already left Barcelona.
A few candidates have been narrowed down by Xavi and company to serve as the team’s long-term future defensive midfielder. Martin Zubimendi of Real Sociedad and Ruben Neves of Wolverhampton Wanderers are at the top of that list.
However, neither of them will show up without issues. While the latter, according to SPORT, is also on Arsenal’s radar, the former is reportedly in talks to extend his contract with La Real.
The midfielder is reportedly a favorite of Mikel Arteta, the manager of the Gunners, who wants to sign him to bolster their center midfield.
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Arsenal attempted to acquire Neves in the summer, along with Barcelona, but Wolves rejected their offer. They asked approximately €50–60 million for the Portuguese, which was significantly more than the Blaugranas could afford.
Neves has no plans to extend his contract, which expires in 2024. Barça and Arsenal are ready to reapply for him next summer when Wolves will be forced to sell him for less in order to avoid losing him for free. They are fully aware of this.
Neves, 25, is rumored to be prioritizing a move to Barcelona despite the fact that Arsenal would likely have a far stronger cash offer for him. When he learned that Camp Nou was interested in signing him last summer, he also turned down offers from Manchester United and Liverpool.
If this rumor is accurate, Barça is unlikely to engage in a bidding battle for Neves. Much like Raphinha and Jules Kounde over Chelsea this summer, they will need to persuade the player to choose them over the Gunners.