Norwich City right-back Max Aarons has agreed personal terms on a five-year deal with Barcelona, but the two clubs have not reached an agreement yet. Barça coach Ronald Koeman is a keen admirer of the player and told him as much when he spoke with him last season.
Bayern Munich have stolen a march on Barcelona in the race for Ajax's Sergiño Dest. The stronger financial clout currently enjoyed by the Germans has allowed them to accept more readily the conditions demanded by Ajax (full payment of the deal this summer). As a consequence, Aarons has now become the club's preferred option.
Barcelona, who contacted Norwich for the first time about two weeks ago, have already agreed a five-year deal with the player.
On Monday, Sport published a picture of a seven-year-old Aarons wearing a Barcelona shirt. The full-back wants to wear the Barcelona colours and would be prepared to move there on loan even if the deal comes without an obligation for the club to buy at the end of the deal.
Norwich rejected an offer made by Barcelona last Friday which was for a loan deal without an obligation to buy, although they would accept a loan deal plus a commitment to buy next summer, with the fee paid over the next two seasons or more. The club is asking for a fee of £20m plus a further £10m in add-ons, although sources close to the negotiations admit they would accept less.
Aarons first met Koeman when he was the Netherlands coach. The player was in Norwich's starting line up in a league game against Liverpool last season, with the Barça boss attended. At the end of the match, their paths crossed and Koeman told the youngster how impressed he had been with his potential.
If his original preference has been for Dest, it is because he knows him better and has seen more of him. If the United States international ends up at Bayern, the sporting directorate will once again convert their energy into making Aarons their first choice, as he was before the arrival of Koeman.
Last season, Aarons played 36 league games and more Premier League minutes than any full-back under the age of 20 in any of the big European leagues. In fact, he has had more playing time than Wan-Bissaka, Renan Lodi, Alphonso Davies and Reece James.
He also covered more distance than Trent Alexander-Arnold and made more high-intensity runs and sprints. He has an average of 1.3 dribbles per game and his pass rate success in the final third is among the highest of all full-backs in the Premier League.