Barcelona Transfer News and Rumours Tracker: Week of December 23
As we all sit down to enjoy a traditional Christmas break with our families, football clubs everywhere will still be working behind the scenes to ensure that they are at the front of the queue for signing opportunities in the January transfer window.
Barcelona will be no different.
Tata Martino can be very happy with how his squad have performed in the first half of the season but Atletico Madrid's form is keeping the Blaugrana on their toes.
A new face or two could be just the boost that the squad needs to push on and deliver, both domestically and in Europe.
Let's take a look at who has been linked with a move, either in or out, and remember to keep checking throughout the week (except on Christmas Day!) for updates.
—Last update Saturday 28 December—
And now Paris Saint-Germain are ready to make their move.
Le Parisien (h/t John Drayton, Daily Mail) report that the Ligue 1 champions are willing to smash the world transfer record in January by offering a staggering £210 million for the Argentine, triggering his release clause.
Despite only signing for Wolfsburg in the summer, after leaving Bayern Munich in the hope of more regular first team football, Brazilian Luis Gustavo has alerted Barcelona to the possibility of a January hire.
Sky Sports report that the Catalans are keen on the 26-year-old and via Globo Esporte the player has certainly not dampened their hopes:
It's always good to have your name linked to Barcelona. This is the third time there has been interest from them.
I have a long contract which includes a buyout fee, and if anyone wants to pay that, they can sign me.
A clause in Gustavo's contract, which Barca are aware of, could see a potential deal materialise.
Despite rarely performing below his best, the Barcelona fans have never really taken to Alex Song.
The Cameroonian has constantly found himself in the shadow of Sergio Busquets and his performances for the Blaugrana have been sporadic at best.
It is understood Barca would only allow a six month loan deal, rather than a permanent transfer.
Centre-back Marc Bartra is on the verge of disappointing a whole host of clubs by signing a new bumper five year contract at Barcelona.
According to Talksport, both Liverpool and Tottenham were hoping to secure the player but with Tata Martino assuring the youngster he has a big future at Camp Nou, this has been enough to convince him to stay.
The news will be a massive boost for cules who have viewed Bartra as the best performing central defender so far this term.
According to the report, the Argentine would "seriously consider" an offer from Napoli in January.
Club President Aurelio De Laurentiis is keen to add more star names to his squad with Mascherano being on manager Rafa Benitez's wish-list since the beginning of the season.
With Marc Bartra about to sign a new long term contract at Camp Nou, Tata Martino may consider this the perfect time to part ways with Mascherano and get a decent transfer fee in the process.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen
Although Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is not expected to sign for Barcelona until the summer, his capture could be completed as early as January if Victor Valdes announces his future destination.
Coach Lucien Favre said: "We hope that he stays with us, but when a club like Barcelona comes for you, well… We have to be realistic, but remain hopeful"
The rumours surrounding Lionel Messi's future at Barcelona persist, despite a fairly unequivocal denial that his son was leaving by the players father.
When asked about the possibility of Messi joining, the Ivorian said: “If it’s to come to City, I hope Messi can leave Barca.”
Fellow Argentine Aguero agreed: “Yes, he should come to City. Then we’ll definitely play together. City should buy him.”
If Messi's rift with the board escalates, then Sandro Rosell could well have a fight on his hands to keep hold of the jewel in the Barca crown.
Nick Lustig of the Daily Express reports the player as saying:
I am happy with Barcelona, but things have to be evaluated every season.
When you play less you do not feel less important, but it is true that you notice playing fewer minutes and it is different.
A possible stumbling block to any transfer could be the players' £125m buyout clause, however that won't stop any potential buyer, who would most likely use Pedro's stance as leverage to conclude any transfer deal.
With Manchester City waiting in the wings vulture-like and ready to raid Barca for their most prized possession, Jorge Messi has given an unequivocal statement on his son's future, per Alec Fenn of Goal.com:
The future of Lionel is in Barcelona. No one can doubt that Lionel is at Barcelona for the feeling he has for the club.
When Lionel says something it always generates a lot of news. We don't want any conflict situation.
Victor Valdes has already made his intentions clear concerning a move away from Camp Nou, with the end of the season thought to be the time when the keeper severs his long association with Barcelona.
For me the most important thing is to respect Barca until the end.
I will not make anything public at a juncture in the campaign which could have a negative impact. The important thing is that team wins and we get the titles that we are targeting.
Such are their own problems in goal, with neither Joe Hart or Costel Pantilimon impressing Manuel Pellegrini to any great degree, that the club may be willing to flex it's financial muscle and take Valdes a full half-season earlier than expected.