Barcelona could reportedly sell midfield duo Ivan Rakitic and Arda Turan in a bid to raise funds to help pay for a new contract for star forward Lionel Messi.
A report from Alonso Castilla of Spanish publication El Confidencial (h/t The Sun's Sam Street) detailed how Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu is anxious to free up cash to offer Messi, whose contract runs out in 2018, a bumper new deal: "An operation has taken shape in recent moments to cut millions of euros [from Barca’s budget] and allow the club to fund the new deal which they will present to their star [Messi]."
Rakitic and Turan could help raise those fees since there's interest in both. Castilla reported how former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, now in charge at City, wants Rakitic to help offset the loss of injured playmaker Ilkay Gundogan.
Rakitic is said to be open to the move: "It is known that the footballer will not have any problem changing his shirt if there is extra money to be earned."
City have the money to put together an offer lucrative enough to tempt Barca into a sale and Rakitic into switching clubs. However, the Camp Nou side may want to think twice before ditching their Croatian pass-master.
The 28-year-old has been a key figure for Barca since joining in 2014, helping the Blaugrana win a treble in his first season. At his best, Rakitic is a classy box-to-box runner who enables quick transitions between defence and attack.
Yet like most of Barca's midfield, Rakitic has struggled somewhat this season. He has managed a mere three goals and just a single assist in all competitions, according to WhoScored.com.
Rakitic's struggles have left Barca overreliant on Andres Iniesta for creativity from the middle. Yet inconsistent form hasn't stopped the former Sevilla man drawing interest from both City's local rivals, Manchester United, who were once seen as favourites for the Croatian, as well as Atletico, per Castilla.
Of course, Barca are supposed to have the strength in depth to cope with any player struggling at a key position. It's one reason why the club signed Turan from Atleti in 2015.
Yet the cerebral winger has struggled to impose himself within Barca's fluid style of play. Still, the Turkey international offered a reminder of his class as a replacement for striker Neymar during the 5-0 win over Las Palmas in La Liga on Saturday, per Ben Hayward of Goal: "No problem for Barca, though, and Arda deputised effectively for the Brazilian, linking up well with his team-mates and also scoring the fourth after a Suarez shot had been saved by Javi Varas."
Like Rakitic, Turan is a creative marvel who can change matches in an instant. He's also highly versatile, able to operate on either flank or in a central attacking-midfield role.
Barca shouldn't give up on a player of Turan's stature and talent easily, especially when the Catalan club can still win La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League this season.
In all honesty, though, Barca's prospects for success—both now and in the future—will depend more on Messi than his supporting cast.
Messi's value has prompted Bartomeu to publicly assure fans about the future of the prolific No. 10, per Esport3 (h/t Goal's Tom Webber): "There aren't any nerves. I want to reassure everyone, I will personally take care of the negotiations with Leo and his family."
Keeping Messi is a necessity for Barcelona. However, Bartomeu's greater challenge will be striking the right balance between doing what it takes to retain his best player while not wrecking the balance and quality of manager Luis Enrique's squad too much.