Barcelona are reportedly plotting a move for Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita, who currently has just a year-and-a-half remaining on the deal he signed back in 2018
Barcelona have been forced to play the waiting game but could be finally ready to negotiate with Liverpool again.
Camp Nou bosses are likely to tread carefully after being fleeced to the tune of £142million in signing Philippe Coutinho in 2018.
It’s a move which has arguably had transformative impacts on both European giants, with the Reds using the cash to become superpowers once again, while the financial effects are still being felt in Catalonia.
Coutinho has never lived up to his billing and it looks increasingly likely that the Brazilian will be on his way out before the end of the January window.
According to a report in Spanish publication El Nacional, Blaugrana boss Xavi is keen on bringing on Reds midfielder Naby Keita to the club.
Keita was signed for more than £50m in the summer of 2018, with a large chunk of the Coutinho money sent to RB Leipzig in exchange.
In truth, it hasn’t quite happened for the Guinea international, who has struggled to ever enjoy a long enough run in Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI to back up his fee.
With his contract set to expire in the summer of 2023, the next couple of windows look crucial in deciding his long-term future at Anfield.
Either he will follow in the footsteps of team-mates like Andy Robertson, Virgil van Dijk and Alisson by signing a new deal, or he will likely be sold while they can still fetch a fee.
El Nacional claim that Barca are in pole position to sign the central midfielder at the end of the season.
And the fact that Barcelona are growing in confidence ahead of potential negotiations could point to the expiration of one of Michael Edwards’ biggest masterstrokes in all his time in charge.
The Liverpool sporting director is set to leave his post after ten years at the end of the current season, admitting he had already overseen his last summer window in charge.
His decade at the club has seen them revolutionise their approach to transfers, with his near-impeccable record in the market helping to deliver a Champions League and Premier League.
But many will look upon those talks in selling Coutinho as his greatest feat. Not only did he help fetch them a stunning transfer fee, he ensured the LaLiga giants wouldn’t be able to repeat the feat…even if they wanted to.
It is understood that Edwards only sanctioned the sale on the proviso that for the following two years Barca would be forced to pay an £89m premium if they wished to sign any Liverpool player in the preceding two years.
That quite obviously prohibited them from carrying out the kind of raids that had seen them land Javier Mascherano, Luis Suarez and Coutinho himself.
However, that deal expired in 2020, meaning Barcelona can now negotiate on a level-playing field. In fact, Keita’s precarious contract situation means they could even manage to drive a bargain.
But it will take a lot to even get close to levelling the scales from that memorable deal in Janaury 2018.