Barcelona have been linked with an extraordinary double swoop for two of the world’s most high-profile players, Neymar and Wayne Rooney.
Barcelona-based publication El Mundo Deportivo reports that there is a real possibility that the Blaugrana could sign two forwards this summer, with both the Santos and Manchester United stars on the radar to form a dream forward trident alongside Lionel Messi.
The signing of at least one attacker certainly appears to be a priority for Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova in the coming close season.
The leading target is Brazil star Neymar, who has been tracked by the Catalans for more than two years. Speculation over the 21-year-old’s future has ratcheted up in recent days, however. While Neymar continues to claim that he will stay put until after next year’s World Cup and that he has not yet made any decision on his next destination, it is widely believed that a down payment on a transfer has already been made by Barcelona and that the player could be heading to Europe this summer.
Latest reports, though, suggest that Barcelona now face real competition for his signature. Spanish sports daily Marca has reported that Real Madrid are looking to steal Neymar from under their fierce rivals’ noses, although any deal could well have to involve heavy compensation being paid to Barcelona if reports of the Catalans’ down payment are correct.
To spin the rumor mill further, Santos vice president Odilo Rodrigues has been in Madrid in recent days. Although he claims he was there for a family holiday, he could have met with either or both of Neymar’s Spanish suitors, given that Barcelona were in town to face Atletico Madrid.
El Mundo Deportivo asserts that Barcelona president Sandro Rosell hs met with representatives of Santos and Neymar and has received assurances that the player is Camp-Nou bound.
The saga has been further complicated, however, by former Santos official Vicente Cascione claiming that Neymar has already signed for Bayern Munich to link up with former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola.
But, while Neymar’s move to Barcelona remains likely, the same cannot be said of a potential move for Rooney.
Outgoing Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that the England international has requested to leave the club having seen his importance to the side diminish in the closing weeks of the season. While Ferguson initially rejected that request, there continues to be much speculation over his future.
Paris Saint-Germain have been named as Rooney’s likeliest destination should he depart, while Chelsea and Bayern Munich have also been linked to the 27-year-old.
Yet El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona boss Vilanova is a long-time admirer of Rooney and would welcome the chance to add him to the club’s squad this summer.
Meanwhile, there have also been widespread reports that Barcelona are eyeing Liverpool’s Jose Reina as a replacement for Victor Valdes. The current Barcelona stopper has said that he will not be extending his contract, which is set to expire in 2014, and there is a growing sense that he will leave this summer.
Reina began his career in Barcelona and could well be interested in a return to Camp Nou, but Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has said that the 30-year-old is not for sale.
There have also been reports that Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas could be heading back to the Premier League. The former Arsenal star has struggled to fully integrate into the Barcelona system since returning to his boyhood club in 2011.
Manchester United have already made contact with Barcelona over a deal for the 26-year-old, according to the London Evening Standard.
Arsenal, who have a first option clause should Fabregas be made available, are believed to still be owed £5 million of the £35 million fee that took the player to Spain. Barcelona are said to be willing to listen to offers in excess of £20 million for the Spain international.