With the transfer window for the winter market just around the corner, Barça are now being linked to a player, Ibrahim Afellay, who is in the last year of his contract.
A Dutch attacking midfielder for PSV Eindhoven of Moroccan descent, Ibrahim is 24 years old and 1.84 meters tall. His nickname is Ibi/Iby
Iby came through the PSV youth system at the age of 10 years from USV Elinkwijk and made his first team debut at the age of 17.
He was plagued with some fitness issues early on which impacted his development, but has become a regular selection for the Dutch NT.
Ibrahim has a close mentor relationship with former Barça legend, Phillip Cocu.
He is currently dating a playmate which has drawn some questions about maturity etc.
2007 Johan Cruyff award for Dutch Young Player of the Year
Through the first thirteen matches in the Eredivisie, he's notched 10 goals and 4 assists. In Europa League action, he has 4 matches and 4 goals
Any young & skillful attacking midfielder in Holland invariably gets the Cruyff comparisons. Afellay is no different.
A genuine playmaker who is versatile enough to play either centrally or on either wing. A true two footed player who can score impressive goals with either leg, although he does seem to favor his right. Exquisite dribbling skills that give him the confidence to take on multiple defenders. But it's his fantastic first touch that probably separates him from the pretenders.
Not easily intimidated or quick to ground as some of his compatriots sometimes are prone to do. Not the strongest kid but not easily knocked off the ball, either.
He doesn't have Gareth Bale speed, but his pace is a strong aspect of his game and his acceleration is precisely what you hope to see out of a winger.
Shooting range is impressive, and he is a direct player who will not be shy going on goal from any angle. That directness would be music to the ears of Barça fans.
Even the greatest players have their weaknesses and Ibi has his as well. He is not a particularly athletic player in terms of leaping or going in for headers. At 75 kg, he is not an especially strong player, despite being 1.84m.
PSV Eindhoven have effectively admitted that the player's contract will not be extended (current contract expires in June 2011) as Ibi has aspirations to ply his trade abroad at a bigger club.
Since he could leave for free in June, he's almost certainly going to be transferred in the winter transfer window for a marked down price.
Not cup tied, versatile in terms of positioning, will be cheap relative to his actual value as a player & he'd have far less of a learning curve adjusting to Barça's playing style due to the obvious
Only word of warning? PSV not too long ago announced financial losses which may be at the root of the publicity surrounding Afellay's future although the talent is definitely there. Adding to that the fact that Dutch clubs have a history of hyping players they intend to profit from in sales, a Caveat Emptor tag is not entirely out of the question even for Afellay.
Neighborhood of €5 million is likely to be the transfer price...Barça will try to get him for even half of that, I believe.
El Mundo Deportivo claims that both Pep Guardiola & Antonio Zubizarretta have singled out Ibi as a perfect addition to the midfield, particularly in light of Xavi's injury concerns.
"I'd love to play for Barçelona one day, but that's something for the future," Afellay continued, "I love to play attacking football and have a lot of possession. Players such as Xavi and Andres Iniesta are amazing players and it would be great to play alongside them. But we'll have to wait and see whether that happens."
Cocu recently expanded on whether Ibi was a good fit for the club in an interview with Sport:
"Yes, I think so. Yes, yes, yes. He is technically a very good player and is a player that uses both feet well"
"He can play different positions. In the Dutch team also he's used in different positions, sometimes on the left wing or right, in attack.
And sometimes he plays for PSV in the No 10, pivot or inside. He is very versatile."
Afellay's agent is Rob Jansen who has a long connection to Sandro Rosell which probably doesn't hurt negotiations.
Sport & EMD are both running stories effectively confirming that an agreement has already been made for the transfer of the player, Afellay...The player's agent, Jansen, presented the offical Barca offer to the PSV Board...Bartomeu & Brands are finalizing the terms apparently in Eindhoven
Still quoting the €2-4 million figure & either a 4 or 5 year contract...Radio Catalunya confirmed the same...Marca are saying the figure is €3 million