Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur will go head-to-head for the signing of Barcelona midfielder Sergi Roberto, according to reports in the Spanish press.
As confirmed by David Wright of the Daily Star, Catalan-based paper El Mundo Deportivo believes the out-of-favour player could soon be on his way to the Premier League:
El Mundo Deportivo has reported that both the Reds and Spurs have made enquiries with the midfielder's agent, with the two sides keen to add to their attacking ranks.
But any interested parties will need to have extravagant financial backing due to a hefty €20million release clause in the 21-year-old's contract.
Roberto has failed to start a game this season and is struggling to make an impression under new manager Gerardo Martino.
The youngster—who joined Barcelona’s youth academy back in 2006—has only played six La Liga games for La Blaugrana since making his debut in 2010, per Wright’s report.
Used in a bit-part role this campaign, Roberto last featured in a nine-minute spell at the end of Barcelona’s win over local rivals Espanyol.
As recorded by WhoScored.com, he also appeared for a matter of seconds against Valencia, played seven minutes in the tie with Malaga and got 52 minutes in the Copa del Rey thrashing of Cordoba.
Three substitute appearances is not enough to satisfy the player’s desire to play, signalling interest from Liverpool, Spurs and AC Milan.
Roberto has represented Spain across numerous youth levels and was part of the Under-17 side that finished third in FIFA’s 2009 U17 World Cup. As noted in the governing body’s official report, the talented player netted a stunning hat-trick in the Round of 16 victory over Burkina Faso.
Wright’s article suggests the player's large transfer fee makes England a more likely destination.
He notes that Iago Aspas’ slow start to life at Anfield could see him replaced in January, while Spurs’ lack of creativity from open play ensures Andre Villas-Boas will look to land Roberto’s signature.
The Portuguese boss has already checked on the process of three Barcelona B players, according to Pete Jenson’s report for the Daily Mail.
Villas-Boas was present during the reserve side’s clash with Deportivo and is said to have scouted goalkeeper Jordi Masip alongside midfielders Sergi Samper and Javier Espinosa.
Which team is best for Sergi Roberto's development?
Liverpool, meanwhile, recently purchased ex-Barcelona B loanee Luis Alberto from Sevilla, per Phil McNulty of BBC Sport.
A January move could hold huge potential for Roberto, who desperately needs first-team football to develop his game.
While an excellent second half to the season is unlikely to land him a place in Spain’s World Cup squad, the youngster will benefit from the opportunity to consistently highlight his talents on the big stage.