Barcelona are reportedly one of several clubs "tracking" Atletico Madrid star Koke.
The Spaniard has been a real star for Atleti since coming up through the academy and has firmly established himself as a key performer in midfield, where he brings guile and unbridled creativity.
Koke is enjoying another strong season with Los Rojiblancos and has produced three goals and eight assists for them in La Liga thus far, guiding his side to second in the table ahead of rivals Real Madrid.
As to be expected even from a creative player in a Diego Simeone side, the 24-year-old is also a committed worker who is more than willing to track back and help out his defenders.
His versatility in being able to feature across the midfield would also be a natural boon not only for the team, but also his chances of getting in the team, as he would have the likes of Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and Arda Turan to compete with for a starting berth.
Having only just recruited Turan, Barca may be unwilling to splash the cash out further on another midfielder this summer. That said, Iniesta will be 32 by the end of the current campaign, and Koke would make an excellent long-term replacement for the legend.
The Catalan giants will also reportedly pip Newcastle United to the signature of Lyon defender Samuel Umtiti. Per football writer Kristian Sturt, the Frenchman was thought to be open to joining the Magpies:
Kristian Sturt @FootieWriter
Samuel Umtiti would be open to a summer move to Newcastle, if they stay up & his brother, who is also his agent, has said they've contacted.3/2/2016, 4:21:04 PM
However, Sport (h/t talkSPORT) reported Barcelona will match the £11 million fee Newcastle would have made, and the 22-year-old is "understood to have his heart set on a move to the Spanish giants."
The youngster has made 21 tackles, 49 interceptions and won 54 of 74 aerial duels in Ligue 1 this season, as well as maintaining a passing accuracy of 86 per cent, according to Squawka.
Football writer Andrew Gibney is an admirer, though he believes it may take more than the reported fee to prise him away:
Andrew Gibney @Gibney_A
@NUFC360 There should be loads. One of the best CBs in France. Superb player. They missed him loads when he was out.2/29/2016, 11:44:02 AM
Andrew Gibney @Gibney_A
@NUFC360 I doubt it. Aulas will want, demand more. Contract till 2019 too.2/29/2016, 11:46:33 AM
Barca may face competition for his signature, but if they're genuinely interested, it's hard to imagine Umtiti would opt for Newcastle instead.
In other news, the Blaugrana could do with securing Sergio Busquets to a new deal, as according to Albert Masnou of Sport English, Manchester United, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are all waiting in the wings to snap him up and each put an offer "on the table."
Further, the Spaniard is "not happy" as he has been promised a contract renewal but is yet to receive one. Football journalist Rafael Hernandez believes he deserves one:
Rafael Hernández @RafaelH117
Busquets: “I hope Bartomeu keeps his word and renew my contract.” If there’s anyone that deserves a raise, it’s him.2/23/2016, 10:03:21 PM
Indeed, he is a key part of Barca's team and often performs well in big games, as he showed against Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League, per Squawka Football:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Sergio Busquets' game by numbers vs Arsenal: 95% pass accuracy 81 passes 3 key passes 2 tackles won 2 interceptions https://t.co/VEjQH9ASwK2/23/2016, 10:13:15 PM
However, according to football writer Xavier Codina, the club cannot afford to offer their players new deals until they have secured further sponsorship income:
Xavier Codina @XavierCodina76
@RafaelH117 => no further player signings / renewals until new and better sponsoring contracts are signed. That's why Nolito couldn't come2/25/2016, 9:39:08 PM
As soon as that is squared away, though, expect Barca to offer fresh terms to all their key players, including Busquets.
German outlet Bild (h/t talkSPORT) reported Barcelona and Manchester City are targeting Borussia Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan as the Bundesliga club may opt to cash in on him this summer rather than potentially lose him for free in 2017.
Spanish football expert Sergi Dominguez believes he would have made a better signing than Turan:
Sergi Domínguez @FutbolSergi
My initial point was Barça could've signed a better player for the money (Ilkay). Long term signing, cheaper & more suited to the 'system'.1/6/2016, 9:14:56 AM
The midfielder's technical skills and impressive distribution would see him fit in well at the Camp Nou.
If he should leave Dortmund, he will undoubtedly attract attention from a host of elite European clubs, so even with Barca's pulling power, it may be a difficult one to pull off.