Barcelona will reportedly turn their attention away from Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund forward Ousmane Dembele to step up their interest in Paris Saint-Germain's Angel Di Maria and OGC Nice playmaker Jean Michael Seri.
According to Sport, the Blaugrana will "move to Plan B" after being frustrated in their pursuits of Coutinho and Dembele. "Barca are not going to sit twiddling their thumbs if they don't sign their two main objectives for this summer," it's reported.
Here's how the story was presented (h/t barcastuff):
Cover: Coutinho and Dembele's situation is complicated. Club resumes the negotiations for the alternatives Di Maria & Seri #fcblive [sport] https://t.co/p2JBuicKJt2017-8-19 02:50:09
Per Phil McNulty of BBC Sport, Liverpool rejected a £114 million Barcelona offer for Coutinho on Friday. The Brazilian handed in a transfer request to the Reds earlier in August, but it appears the Premier League side are ready to stand firm in the face of this interest.
As reported by Danny Gallagher of MailOnline, the situation with Dembele is similar, as Barca have found Dortmund tough negotiators. The 20-year-old has been indefinitely suspended by his club after he missed training without explanation.
As relayed by BBC Sport's Simon Stone, despite suggestions from the Catalan giants that progress was being made on deals, on reflection those statements feel like posturing:
Simon Stone @sistoney67
Barca said they were close to Dembele/Coutinho deals but news to @BVB or @LFC. Former want much more than offered. Latter won't sell.2017-8-17 15:43:06
With their squad looking pretty thin on the cusp of a new season in La Liga, there will be pressure on Barcelona's negotiators to get some players through the door. Di Maria and Seri would represent fascinating alternatives.
The former is particularly intriguing because of his association with Barcelona's great rivals, Real Madrid. After helping Los Blancos to the UEFA Champions League in 2013-14, Di Maria moved to Manchester United. After a disappointing season with the Red Devils, he joined PSG in 2015.
While he's been up and down in terms of form at the Parc des Princes, he's remained a consistent threat in the final third. But journalist Jonathan Johnson believes Neymar's arrival will spell the end for the Argentinian in Paris:
Jonathan Johnson @Jon_LeGossip
Neymar's PSG debut a big deal but are we also about to witness Angel Di Maria's final appearance this evening? #Mbappe #EAGPSG2017-8-13 18:41:36
Another player who has been excelling in Ligue 1 is Seri. Last term, he was the heartbeat of a Nice team who challenged for the title for long spells.
The Ivory Coast international possesses all the attributes you would expect of a Barcelona midfielder. Technically, Seri is outstanding. He's comfortable receiving the ball in tight spaces, picking out incisive passes in the final third and managing the tempo of a match.
It's the type of presence Barca have been without since Xavi departed in 2015, and while Seri doesn’t measure up to the great man, he would be an asset at the Camp Nou. Per OptaJean, the 26-year-old loves to get on the ball and dictate play:
2527 - Only Jean-Michael Seri (2542) completed more passes than Thiago Motta (2527) in Ligue 1 2016/17. Free ?2017-6-30 13:37:39
While Barcelona have £200 million banked from Neymar's departure, spending that money when teams know you have it is problematic. Plus, with the Premier League and Bundesliga under way, neither Liverpool nor Dortmund will feel they can sufficiently replace their key man.
It gives Barca a problem. Consequently, it is unsurprising to see the club considering alternatives. Neither Di Maria nor Seri will get pulses quickening quite as much as Dembele or Coutinho, though.