In a scarcely believable transfer rumour, it seems FC Barcelona have inquired about gifted Argentine winger Angel Di Maria, currently plying his trade for bitter enemy Real Madrid.
According to SPORT, Barca were considering a €60m offer for the Real Madrid man, however their initial approach to discuss the deal with Los Blancos was rejected out of hand.
If true it would be an interesting decision by Real, as the €60m offer feels like the highest bid which Florentino Perez’s club is likely to receive for the South American.
Moreover, the story seems to fuel belief that Barcelona, now facing a 12 months ban on signing players in 2015, could be about to spend big before August 31st in a final fling to boost their squad.
This certainly is an outlandish rumour. However, it's one not entirely without merit. As wisely suggested in the 101 Great Goals report, snaring Di Maria could be a way to soften the blow of an imminent transfer ban.
Barca recently had an initial appeal against the ban, set to begin in January and last two transfer windows, rejected by FIFA, per The Guardian. Snagging Di Maria before that ban hits would represent a major coup for new manager Luis Enrique.
He would get a prolific creator of goals, capable of playing wide in a front three, or even centrally at the tip of a middle trio. The latter position is a role Los Blancos boss Carlo Ancelotti used the 26-year-old in last season.
Di Maria responded to the positional change with an exceptional season. He crafted 22 assists in La Liga and UEFA Champions League action, per WhoScored.com.
In fact, Di Maria performed so well that Atletico Madrid chief Diego Simeone felt compelled to name him as Real's star man after the Spanish Super Cup first leg, per MailOnline reporter Chris Cutmore: "The game changed with Di Maria. It's logical - he's the best player they have. He's the player most likely to create openings in the opposition half."
However, things have soured for the Argentine international in the Spanish capital. Ancelotti confirmed the player's intention to move on during this summer via a Press Association report in The Guardian:
Di María asked to go in the summer and has rejected an offer from the club. The player has to look for a solution. If when the market closes he’s still here, he will work with us like last season and there will be no problem.
He’s a Real Madrid player and until 31 August, as I’ve already said, anything can happen. I’m surprised to read that there seems to be some disagreement [about Di María] between the club and me. There’s no disagreement and we both think the same.
A move to Barcelona, however fanciful it seems, would certainly suit Di Maria. With the arch creator around, dominant Barca forward Lionel Messi certainly wouldn't be short of supply. In fact, the pair have a good on-pitch rapport from their time together at international level.
Enrique certainly has the need for a player who can competently support Messi. New arrival Luis Suarez is banned for biting, while Brazilian Neymar Jr. has recently succumbed to a Grade 1 ankle sprain, per FCBarcelona.com.
However, while Barca's need for a player of Di Maria's quality is obvious, this rumour should still be bookmarked in the realms of fantasy. This is despite transfers between Real and Barcelona not being unheard of.
Stars such as Enrique himself and most famously, Luis Figo, have tread that path. Madrid certainly want money for Di Maria, but Ancelotti will be loath to strengthen Barca's ranks, especially when he knows Neymar and Suarez will return to supplement Messi.
Los Blancos have the advantage of other teams' interest in Di Maria. Premier League club Manchester United want him as the foundation of new boss Louis van Gaal's rebuilding project.
The Red Devils are willing to pay £50 million, as are French Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain, per The Sun (h/t The Mirror).
Consider Di Maria ending up at either Old Trafford or jetting to the French capital far more likely than him switching from Madrid to Barcelona.