Barcelona Transfer News: Latest Rumours on Riyad Mahrez and Jordi Alba

Matt Jones@@MattJFootballFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2017

STRATFORD, ENGLAND - MARCH 18: Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City celebrates  during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Leicester City at London Stadium on March 18, 2017 in Stratford, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Barcelona will launch a summer bid for Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez.

That's according to John Percy of the Daily Telegraph, who stated that the Premier League champions "are bracing themselves for an official move ahead of the next campaign." The report suggests Leicester will demand around £40 million before agreeing to cash in on their creator-in-chief.

Percy added that Mahrez is aware of the interest from the Catalan giants and has previously expressed his admiration for Barcelona and Lionel Messi in particular.

These numbers from WhoScored.com show just how creative the winger has been over the past couple of Premier League seasons:

The Algeria international thrilled for large spells of the 2015-16 campaign, giving Leicester an inventive and incisive edge in the final third that proved to be a catalyst for their Premier League title success. Mahrez's balance, trickery and turn of pace make him so difficult to handle.

Leicester City's Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez kisses the premier league trophy after winning the league and the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Everton at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on May 7, 2016
ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

This season, like many Leicester players, he's not reached the same high standards. But as Jonathan Northcroft of the Sunday Times noted recently, Mahrez's form has taken a turn for the better as of late:

At Barcelona, he would find it difficult to muscle into the front three ahead of Messi, Neymar or Luis Suarez. But the chance to move to a juggernaut of a club like the Spanish champions would surely appeal to the 26-year-old.

For the Blaugrana, having another player capable of slotting into the front three would help take some of the burden off the revered MSN trio, something Paco Alcacer has been unable to do since his arrival at the club last summer. Mahrez's versatility and flair make him a prime candidate.

  

Jordi Alba Latest

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 04:  Jordi Alba of Barcelona controls the ball during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RC Celta de Vigo at Camp Nou on March 04, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Vladimir Rys Photography/Getty Images)
Vladimir Rys Photography/Getty Images

According to Toni Frieros of Sport, concerns are growing about Jordi Alba's situation at Barcelona.

"He isn't performing as well as the coach would like, not up to the standard of one of the top left-backs in the world," Frieros noted. "The decline in performance is worrying, especially [for] the staff and [technical director] Robert Fernandez, because Alba is 28 and has a lot to offer still."

It's suggested that Alba is not pleased at being left out of some crucial games recently, with manager Luis Enrique shifting to a 3-4-3 setup. According to Rob Dawson of the Manchester Evening News, Manchester United and Manchester City are keeping tabs on the player's status.

Sport’s Rik Sharma believes the formation recently utilised by the manager doesn't accommodate natural full-backs: 

Since joining Barca from Valencia in 2012, Alba has been a key figure in the club’s success.

Enrique has tweaked the way Barcelona play recently.
Enrique has tweaked the way Barcelona play recently.LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Even so, Alba's performance level hasn't been consistent over the past couple of seasons. While he's still a scintillating player with the ball at his feet, his decision-making in the final third has been erratic, while his defensive positioning has also been poor at times.

According to Frieros, there is a "distance" between Alba and Enrique, who is set to leave the club at the end of the campaign. The Spain left-back will be hoping a new manager will find a place for him in the team again next season so that he can rediscover top gear.