Manchester United are reportedly interested in finalising a cut-price deal for Barcelona defender Marc Bartra after discovering he could be purchased for £9 million.
Per Mundo Deportivo (h/t talkSPORT), Bartra has grown tired of waiting for his chance in the Barca first-team and is now ready to move on, with a transfer to the Premier League giants seemingly the most likely.
Per WhoScored.com, the Barca centre-back has featured in six La Liga matches this term, including just three starts, with head coach Luis Enrique overlooking the 25-year-old for much of the current campaign.
Manager Louis van Gaal's United remain in need of defensive reinforcements due to a string of injuries this term resulting in Danny Blind featuring regularly in an unpreferred central role alongside Chris Smalling.
Per Goal's Mark Doyle, Bartra turned down several offers during the summer of 2015, claiming he was eager to earn more game time at the Camp Nou, stating: "I'm not listening to offers. My head is focused 100 per cent on Barca. My goal is to surpass the 21 games I played as a starter last season."
However, following Bartra's failure to secure more on-pitch action, the defender's views on the matter have altered, and he is willing to leave the club.
As noted by Mundo Deportivo, via talkSPORT, the club's academy graduate reportedly had a £20 million release clause inserted into his latest contract. However, due to his limited appearances that price tag figure has dropped considerably by more than half, alerting the attention of the Old Trafford club.
The defender posted a picture of himself on social media after coming off the bench against Sporting Gijon for a rare outing:
Per Mundo Deportivo and via Sport Witness, the Catalan club are hoping of recreating the deal they struck with Everton for midfielder Gerard Deulofeu. In striking similarity, Barca remain keen not to lose their man permanently and are planning to arrange a buy-back clause in his contract for any prospective club seeking their player's signature.
Bartra—left out of the side's Champions League squad—may appear too old for the club to loan out, with an offer from Seville for his services on a short-term deal turned down in January, per Sport. In seven seasons at the club, the seven-time capped Spain international has made 55 appearances, per Soccerway. Bartra wants to remain loyal to the club but has become disillusioned by Enrique's persistent neglect.
United are expected to make a defensive acquisition a priority this summer, with Smalling their only consistent performer at the heart of their defensive, completing 25 league appearances this term. Competition for places at Barca has seen the likes of Pedro leave for Chelsea and is the key reason why Thiago Alcantara followed manager Pep Guardiola to Bayern Munich.
Bartra could join the list of departees soon and admitted last summer he did have an interest in English football despite his Barca allegiance, per Andy Mitten of FourFourTwo: "I like to watch the Premier League," he says. "English football is a little anarchic, full of one-v-ones. I like that, but my heart is in Barca."
The centre-half remains desperate to gain the trust of his manager and allow him to make the centre of defence his own, however, with Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano, Jeremy Mathieu and even Thomas Vermaelen ahead of him in the pecking order he faces a tough task.