Lionel Messi's Argentina teammate Guido Rodriguez has emerged as a midfield target for Barcelona, according to Catalan daily ARA [via Barca Universal].
Sergio Busquets has been a stalwart in Barcelona's midfield for over a decade now. However, it appears his time with the Blaugrana is nearing an end, with his contract expiring at the end of the season.
The 34-year-old reportedly does not intend to put pen to paper on a new deal with the Catalans. The La Liga giants are thus said to be looking at options to replace him starting the 2023-24 campaign.
Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Zubimendi has long been identified as the ideal replacement for Busquets. However, he does not appear to be a financially viable option for Barcelona due to the €60 million release clause in his contract.
The Blaugrana are hence considering cost-effective alternatives for Zubimendi to strengthen their midfield. Real Betis midfielder Rodriguez is viewed as such an option, according to the aforementioned source.
Rodriguez has been a key player for Real Betis since joining them from Mexican club Club America for €4 million in January 2020. He has made 117 appearances across all competitions for the La Liga side.
The midfielder found the back of the net six times and registered three assists in those matches. He notably helped Manuel Pellegrini's side win the Copa del Rey last season.
Rodriguez, who plays with Lionel Messi for Argentina, is contracted to Real Betis until 2024 and has a release clause of €80 million. However, the club's tricky financial situation could help Barcelona negotiate a lower fee, thus making the Argentinean a feasible option.
Wolverhampton Wanderers' Ruben Neves and Chelsea's Jorginho are other possible targets, as per the report. The Catalans, though, are not sold on the idea of signing either of those two midfielders.
Chelsea's N'Golo Kante and Manchester City's Rodri have also been mooted as potential options. However, they are now viewed as viable options for the Camp Nou outfit.
Barcelona target Rodriguez plays with Lionel Messi for Argentina
Apart from being an important player for Real Betis, Rodriguez is also a regular for Argentina. He has notably been named in La Albiceleste's 26-man squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The 28-year-old midfielder has played 20 matches with Lionel Messi for Argentina. The two have even combined to find the back of the net once for Lionel Scaloni's side.
Lionel Messi and Rodriguez will be hopeful of winning the FIFA World Cup with Argentina this time around. Impressing in Qatar could see the midfielder attract interest from more clubs.