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Barcelona Transfer News: Antonio Sanabria Return Targeted Amid Leicester Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 6, 2016

GIJON, SPAIN - JANUARY 22:  Arnaldo Sanabria of Real Sporting de Gijon reacts during the La Liga match between Real Sporting de Gijon and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Estadio El Molinon on January 22, 2016 in Gijon, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

La Liga winners Barcelona and Premier League champions Leicester City will reportedly battle it out for AS Roma starlet Antonio Sanabria this summer.

The 20-year-old shone on loan with Sporting Gijon last term, and according to Sport (h/t Football Italia), his exciting displays caught the attention of the Blaugrana. But it’s also suggested the Foxes fancy their chances of bringing Sanabria to England.

Here is a look at how the story is covered in the newspaper, per Sport Witness:

Sport Witness @Sport_Witness

Today's Sport Barcelona transfer cover star is Tony Sanabria. https://t.co/FXlhPhHBBu

Despite his haul of 11 La Liga goals in 29 games for Sporting, it’s stated Roma have no intention of integrating the youngster into their squad next season. Here is a look at why that might be good news for both Leicester and Barcelona:

Sanabria is a bright prospect, and he honed his talents as a young player in the Barcelona academy before moving to Sassuolo and then to the Giallorossi.

While the talent he possesses has always been clear, it was only when he was loaned to Sporting that we witnessed the Paraguay international’s quality on a consistent basis.

Of course, there were fluctuations in form, as is the case with any young forward, but they were meshed with moments of inspiration.

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Sanabria was the focal point of the Sporting attack and with the club fighting relegation there was an onus on him to deliver; his final-day goal against Villarreal helped the team preserve their top-flight status.

Sanabria was superb on loan at Sporting.
Sanabria was superb on loan at Sporting.Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

As these numbers from earlier in the campaign illustrated from Squawka Football, there weren’t many players his age making such a significant impression in Europe:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Most goals & assists by U21 players in 2015/16: D. Alli (19) O. Dembélé (17) A. Mitrović A. Martial A. Sanabria L. Sané D. Berardi (all 11)

The next phase of his career is a key one. Already in the nascent stages of his playing days Sanabria has played for four different clubs and it’s imperative he finds some kind of stability to continue developing.

Barcelona wouldn’t necessarily be the best place to do that. While the club may be on the lookout for a player who can deputise for Luis Suarez at the point of the attack, it’s difficult to see Sanabria getting too much of a look in at the Camp Nou with so many quality players in situ.

Sanabria would be a decent deputy for Suarez.
Sanabria would be a decent deputy for Suarez.Daniel Tejedor/Associated Press

So while the chance to return to his former club and showcase the improvements made would be extremely tempting, perhaps Leicester would be a more sensible choice at this stage in the player’s career. After all, should Jamie Vardy decide to move to Arsenal, there would be a chance to become the team’s main forward.

As noted by OptaJoe, he’d be a difficult player to replace:

OptaJoe @OptaJoe

30 - Jamie Vardy was involved in more goals than any other player in the 2015-16 Premier League (24 goals six assists). Coveted.

The most important factor for Sanabria is playing regular football. He showed last term in a struggling team that he is ready to be handed more responsibility and with that in mind, it’s no surprise to see elite teams keeping tabs on him.

For Barcelona it’d potentially be an ideal acquisition. Manager Luis Enrique needs someone capable of playing at the point of the attack should Suarez be unavailable and as a technical centre-forward, Sanabria would be a fine fit for the role. But for the player, now is not the right time to return to his former club.

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