Barcelona international director of football Ariedo Braida believes Juventus star Paul Pogba would only leave the Bianconeri for three clubs during the summer transfer window, and those teams would be Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and the Blaugrana.
Speaking to Premium Sport (h/t Sport's Jorge Giner), he also stated his belief a move is likely for the Frenchman: "It’s very likely he will go to a big club, although he is already playing for a ‘top’ club. If he was to leave Juve, I think he would end up at Barcelona, [Manchester] City or Paris Saint-Germain.”
The 23-year-old continues to be linked with top clubs around the continent, and Barcelona never appear to be too far out of the discussion. Sport Mediaset's Paolo Bargiggia (h/t Sport EN) has previously said Pogba is “only interested” in Barca and that the youngster has already decided he will move to Catalonia this summer.
Despite the constant stream of rumours, there are also strong indications the France international will stay with Juventus, per ESPN FC's David Amoyal:
Pogba reportedly agreed to a ten year deal worth €40 million with Adidas, same company that sponsors Juve- he recently got #10 jersey— David Amoyal (@DavidAmoyal) March 18, 2016
The former Manchester United star hardly needs an introduction. Pogba has emerged as arguably the best young midfielder in the world in the last few seasons, playing a key role for a Juventus side that has dominated Serie A with him in the squad.
He struggled to live up to the lofty expectations at the start of the season, which was to be expected after the departures of Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal, but he has since rediscovered his form and once again looks like a future Ballon d'Or winner.
Here's a look at some of his highlights:
Blessed with tremendous power, excellent technique and a killer shot from long range, Pogba is a nightmare to defend. He can split out wide and deliver crosses, run a team from a deeper position with his ability to pass the ball or take on chances himself.
Consistency can be an issue with Pogba, but that's only normal given his young age. He's already a world-class option in midfield, and his potential is sky-high.
Barcelona don't need another star midfielder, but the Catalans aren't in the habit of passing up superstars just because they might not fit in the team. For a player as gifted as Pogba, you'll always find a slot in the squad.
Fit wouldn't be Barcelona's main issue in dealing for Pogba, but price might be. Under current financial fair play regulations, the Blaugrana are right on the edge of how much money they're allowed to spend on wages, and they're struggling to offer new deals to their current stars, per Sky Sports' Guillem Balague:
Barcelona cannot afford to give new contracts to Lionel Messi, Suarez and Neymar as it stands - financially they do not have the power to do so. They need to bring a lot of money in, if they do that they will be able to keep them, but if they don't they may have to get rid of one. That's why Neymar keeps leaving the door open for United and others.
While most don't believe their financial issues will lead to the departure of Neymar, Lionel Messi or Luis Suarez, they do severely limit what the Catalans can do in the transfer market. They can't afford to add Pogba to the wage bill unless they remove a few players first, and the Frenchman will be looking for a big deal if he leaves Juventus.
Will Pogba leave Juventus in 2016?
On top of that, Juventus will not want to sell Pogba for anything but a gargantuan fee. The Bianconeri have done a fantastic job of keeping hold of their top stars over the years, and they only tend to sell players who have hit their peak.
Per Alex Yannis of the New York Times, they sold Zinedine Zidane to Real Madrid for a then-record transfer fee in 2001, and those funds were used to bring a ton of players to Turin who helped usher in one of the club's best periods in recent history. With Pogba, they'll likely attempt to do the same thing.
Meanwhile, Braida also acknowledged Barcelona need to sign a new, youthful defender, which will likely lead to fresh links with Athletic Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte. The French youngster has long been touted as one of La Liga's top young prospects, and last month, he couldn't hide his admiration of the team in an interview with Football365 (h/t Sport's Lluis Miguelsanz).
But according to the Sun (h/t Guardian's Paul Doyle), Pep Guardiola will also try to move for the centre-back once he becomes the new Manchester City manager, handing the Catalans some strong competition in the race to land Laporte.