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Barcelona chase Lille star as swap deal flounders

Antoine Griezmann

No money brings problems

FC Barcelona’s money problems have been well documented this summer.

Heavily in debt, and with an astronomical wage bill, the Catalan club are so out of pocket that they, as of yet, have been unable to commit to a new contract with free-agent Lionel Messi, whose previous deal expired nearly three weeks ago.

Indeed, it is widely expected that the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho will have to depart this summer, just so the club can register their new free-agent signings, which include Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Memphis Depay.

A midfield gamble

Despite their financial woes, Barcelona remain intent on strengthening a squad that finished in a disappointing third in La Liga last time out, and was knocked out in the round of 16 in the Champions League by a hefty 5-2 scoreline.

Pedri and Frenkie de Jong are both already world-class options, but after a deal for Georginio Wijnaldum was hijacked by PSG – the very side that knocked them out of Europe – alternatives have been sought.

A proposed swap with Atletico Madrid, which would see Griezmann sent back to the Spanish capital in exchange for midfield general Saul Niguez, is thought to be proving tricky, leaving Ronald Koeman’s side weighing up other options.

One of those, according to Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo, is Lille star Renato Sanches. The Portuguese midfielder helped Lille to the Ligue 1 title last campaign, contributing a goal and three assists from a deep-lying role.

In line with Barcelona’s financial problems, the deal would be staged as a loan with an obligation to buy, which would allow the club to put off paying anything for Sanches’ services until next season.

Would he represent a good option for Koeman?

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This article was edited by Conor Laird.