Barcelona are said to be ready to turn their attention to Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt or Schalke 04’s Max Meyer if they fail to sign Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool during the January transfer window.
Sport reports on its Tuesday (17 October) front cover that the Catalans “have already talked with both wingers to negotiate their potential arrivals” to the Nou Camp ahead of the second part of the season.
Coutinho remains Barcelona’s number 1 target to bolster Ernesto Valverde’s ranks after club CEO Oscar Grau admitted last week that they are financially ready to sign the Liverpool ace.
“We are prepared to sign Coutinho or other players but the proposal has to come from the technical staff. We will do our best to meet their demands,” Grau said “If there are arrivals maybe there will be also departures. We are putting all the resources of the club [to improve the squad]. We could [sign in January]. We will study it if it necessary. The financial year runs until July so sales can also be made at the end of the season. If this is the case [If Barcelona sign players in January] we have to generate income and maybe someone have to leave. We will see it.”
Sport says that Barcelona still don’t rule out at all the signing of Coutinho but are already working on more affordable alternatives as they know that luring the Brazilian away from Liverpool will cost around €130m (£115.6m, $152m).
In this sense the Spanish publication claims that Brandt and Meyer have emerged as the two main alternatives to the Brazilian join Barcelona in January.
The Catalans’ interest in the two Bundesliga stars is not new as last month Mundo Deportivo already revealed that Barcelona international adviser, Ariedo Braida, was in attendance during Leverkusen’s meeting with Schalke in order to keep tabs on both players and as well Leon Goretzka and Benjamin Henrichs.
But speculation has increased after Barcelona technical secretary Robert Fernandez and assistant Urbano Ortega both travelled to German on Sunday (15 October) to watch the Bundesliga 2-2 draw between Leverkusen and Wolfsburg.
Sport says that the duo kept tabs on 21-year-old Brandt with him emerging as the main alternative to Coutinho alongside Meyer ahead of the coming January window.
Brandt has a €40m (£35.6m, $47m.) release clause at Leverkusen but the Spanish publications predicts that his move to Barcelona won’t be easy either as Bayern Munich are already in advanced negotiations to lure him to the Allianz in the summer.
Yet, Sport says that the club have also identified a more affordable option target in Meyer as the 22-year-old will be out of contract at Schalke at the end of the current season.
Furthermore, both players will be able to play in the Champions League for Barcelona during the second part of the season while Coutinho is cup-tied, having already played for Liverpool.