Reports: Barcelona turn to €35m 'African Xavi' after failing in Marco Verratti bid
What’s the story?
Barcelona have joined to race to sign Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri, also dubbed the ‘African Xavi’, according to a report in Spanish news outlet, Mundo Deportivo. The Blaugrana are in search for a central midfielder and had reportedly begun talks with Marco Verratti but have been rebuffed by Paris Saint-Germain, resulting in Barcelona now eyeing Seri, valued at €35 million.
In case you didn’t know...
Seri has been instrumental in OGC Nice’s tremendous season in Ligue 1, with the south coast club just 3 points behind Paris St-Germain in 3rd place and 6 behind leaders AS Monaco. The Ivorian has played 36 games for Nice this season, and despite playing in the deeper box-to-box role, has already scored 6 goals, while assisting 9 goals this season, thus earning him the moniker of ‘African Xavi’ and ‘Mr. Assist’ among Nice fans.
The heart of the matter
Seri isn’t Barcelona’s first-choice, as the Catalans originally targeted Marco Verratti, but have been put off by PSG’s extremely high valuation of the Italian midfielder. Barcelona’s technical director, Roberto Fernandez, is reportedly overseeing a massive overhaul of the squad - which has limited their options to spending most of their transfer budget on one player.
Borussia Dortmund, Southampton and Everton are the clubs that Seri had reportedly rejected earlier in the season, although ‘Barcelona’ are apparently his dream destination and he would jump at the chance to join them. The Ivorian has caught the eye with his performances recently, especially after dominating PSG’s midfield in Nice’s 3-1 win over the Ligue 1 giants.
€35m would be enough for Barcelona to tempt Nice into selling the midfielder, which would also free up funds for sprucing up the squad in other positions, most notably the right-back role, as well as allowing greater financial leeway in the contract negotiations with Lionel Messi.
Seri would find it almost impossible to reject Barcelona, thus the Catalans should see this transfer through with the most minimum of fuss.
What has been missing from Barcelona’s midfield this season has been some energy and defensive nous, with both Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets regressing horribly. Seri would solve a problem position for Barcelona, as those attributes are his strength. He is perhaps more ideal for Barcelona than Verratti, as it would allow for Barcelona to overhaul their squad by costing almost half of what the Italian midfielder would.