Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is reportedly on course for potential confrontation with former club Barcelona as Borussia Dortmund midfielder Julian Weigl is said to be a key target for both clubs next summer.
Spanish newspaper AS (h/t MailOnline's Luke Augustus) reported both Barcelona and City see Weigl as "the new Sergio Busquets," the midfield anchor who has been a dominant force at the Camp Nou for close to 10 years.
However, it's the Citizens who look likely to offer the quicker route to regular first-team football with the contracts of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho expiring in June 2018. Barca, however, reportedly see Weigl in more of a rotation role alongside Busquets, 29.
However, Weigl is still fighting to regain his best form after spending four months out due to a broken ankle, and German football writer Lars Pollmann noted his underwhelming display in a recent 2-1 win over FC Augsburg:
Lars Pollmann @LarsPollmann
That Weigl dot size. Played same number of passes as Bürki. 10 completed passes in 2nd half. https://t.co/SZMJlCx9cN2017-9-30 17:13:02
The 22-year-old has earned rave reviews in the Bundesliga since moving to Dortmund from 1860 Munich in 2015, although it appears he's still adapting to the system employed by manager Peter Bosz.
It wasn't long ago City boss Guardiola hailed his current crop of midfield stars, per the Press Association's Andy Hampson:
Andy Hampson @andyhampson
In tonight's programme Guardiola hails the talent in his squad. "Our midfield options are fantastic," he says #MCFC https://t.co/A1zImBZ43C2017-8-21 17:51:10
Barcelona may soon have need for another calming presence in their engine room, however, as despite evergreen Andres Iniesta having recently signed a lifetime contract with the club, he'll turn 34 next May.
The Blaugrana brought in Paulinho from Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande over the summer, while the likes of Sergi Roberto and Denis Suarez are also promising up-and-comers in midfield.
Perhaps none of those boast the same potential Weigl has shown after earning five caps for Germany since making his senior debut last term, with Roberto having been utilised largely as a right-back in recent times.
Weigl has scored one goal this season, and his strike in the 6-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach earned a nomination for the Bundesliga's Goal of the Month in September:
Bundesliga English @Bundesliga_EN
September Goal of the Month 🗳 #Aranguiz #Caiuby #Haller #Weigl #Kagawa #Goretzka #Philipp #Keita #Vidal #Yarmolenko Vote with the hashtag! https://t.co/r6mHunAzk62017-10-6 13:32:46
The player is adding more strings to his bow but is largely seen as a defensive midfielder at the Westfalenstadion.
That said, Weigl has shown the capacity to become a more complete midfielder in future, which is part of the appeal City chief Guardiola and Barca boss Ernesto Valverde see in him.