Jordi Cruyff sounds out Zubimendi deal as Barça optimism grows
Xavi's insistence has been key in Barcelona not giving up on the La Real midfielder
Barcelona are preparing to make a big investment on a deep-lying midfielder as they prepare for life without Sergio Busquets, who is out of contract in the summer.
Barça have been combing the market for months and have put several names on the table for coach Xavi Hernandez. There are a variety of profiles, from more physical players to players that are more experienced and some that are available for free in June.
More than 10 players have been observed closely by the sporting department, but the Real Sociedad's Martin Zubimendi remains the top target. Xavi wants him and is convinced by his positional play, his touch and his age as the replacement for Busquets.
There are no doubts inside the club but his €60 million price generates doubts about making a mistake. The investment could be risky but Xavi is not ceding.
Barça have approached the player's camp. Sporting director Jordi Cruyff has intensified contact with Zubimendi's agent, who he has had a direct relationship with for years.
Iñaki Ibáñez, Zudimendi's agent, was also Cruyff's when he was a player. He collaborated with Barça in other deals, too, such as the arrival of Aubameyang on a free last January.
Barça saw Zubimendi's recent renewal until 2027 as a good sign as his clause remains €60m. The big question is if Barça will be able to negotiate that down or at least agree to a payment schedule or maybe even a player in part exchange.
What Barça don't want is for relations to become hostile with Real Sociedad. They would want to reach a friendly agreement, be that in January or next summer, which would be more natural.
It is clear there are other options if a Zubimendi deal proves impossible. A few months ago, it seemed more complicated, but there is some optimism now that a deal can be brokered.
Xavi's insistence is strong, so Barça will try. The priority is Zubimendi, but don't rule anyone else out yet.