Barcelona technical secretary Robert Fernandez has indicated the club would be interested in buying back winger Gerard Deulofeu during this summer's transfer window.
Deulofeu, a former youth academy product at Barca, is on loan at Serie A side AC Milan from Premier League outfit Everton. However, Fernandez indicated the Blaugrana would be interested in exercising a buyback clause worth €12 million to put Deulofeu in a Barca shirt again.
Speaking on TV3 (h/t Football-Espana.net), Fernandez said, "Deulofeu? Yes, he’s absolutely an option for the future. Definitely."
This isn't the first time the idea of Deulofeu returning to the Camp Nou has been rumoured recently. In fact, Spanish source Mundo Deportivo (h/t Anthony Chapman of The Sun) reported earlier this week the decision has already been made to re-sign Deulofeu while the club gets ready to welcome a new manager this summer.
Deulofeu merits the interest from his former club because of the way he has revived his form since joining the Rossoneri on loan. Matteo Bonetti of beIN Sports North America believes the wing wizard has responded well to working with a new manager:
Matteo Bonetti @TheCalcioGuy
Incredible turnaround in Deulofeu's career since playing for a manager who believes in him. Has been Milan's top performer since January.2017-4-15 19:43:49
Replying to Ian Darke of BT Sport, Bonetti also revealed what Milan boss Vincenzo Montella has done to help get Deulofeu back on track:
Matteo Bonetti @TheCalcioGuy
@IanDarke First thing Montella switched was his position. Has him on the left side and wants him to go for goal a lot more often.2017-4-15 20:21:16
Deulofeu certainly has the talent but didn't always show it after joining Everton in 2013. At his best, though, he can torment defences with pace, trickery, vision and awesome shooting power.
The 23-year-old is a natural winger, but it's debatable whether Barcelona need one of those.
The closest thing Barca have to a traditional wide man is Arda Turan. It's notable how little the ex-Atletico Madrid ace plays, having started just 15 games in all competitions this season, according to WhoScored.com.
Deulofeu is good enough to return to Barcelona and thrive. Yet he may not be the right fit for the way the team currently plays.
Barca Keen on Nolito
Deulofeu doesn't seem like the right fit, but Manchester City forward Nolito does. Barca will reportedly make another attempt to sign the Spain international who is concerned about how little he's played since moving to Manchester.
A report from Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star Sunday has outlined the player's thinking: "Nolito, 30, is concerned that he is not playing enough at City and that is damaging his chances of making Spain’s World Cup squad next year. He is understood to be considering returning to Spain and former club Barca are interested."
Hetherington also revealed how Nolito "turned down a move to Barcelona to join City boss Pep Guardiola last summer, when he left Celta Vigo for £13.8m."
In terms of fitting in at Barca, Nolito would answer an obvious need in the squad, improving the depth behind the club's star-studded front three. As a versatile attacker with the ability to operate wide or as a centre-forward, Nolito offers a more direct threat than Deulofeu.
He's at his most effective whenever he ghosts off the left and makes runs through the middle in between centre-backs. Nolito would provide greater scoring potential than Paco Alcacer, who has struggled for goals since signing from Valencia last summer.
Alcacer has scored just five goals this season, per WhoScored.com. He has struggled to help Barca cope whenever one of Neymar, Suarez or Messi have been missing.
While Alcacer still has tremendous potential, an experienced and proven international like Nolito would inspire greater confidence as the next man up.
Barca can bolster their already frightening attacking options by making some smart additions to supplement their stars. Either Deulofeu or Nolito would suffice, with the latter a better immediate fit.