Bernardo Silva has agreed to join FC Barcelona from Manchester City.
The Portugal international is Barca head coach Xavi Hernandez’s top target to reinforce the midfield next season, with Frenkie de Jong possibly joining City’s cross-town rivals Manchester United on a €65mn ($68mn) plus add-ons deal this summer.
According to SPORT on Sunday, Silva has made it clear to his agent Jorge Mendes that he wants to play for the Catalans in the upcoming term and made his mind made up on leaving England some time ago.
Yet getting the Abu Dhabi-backed giants to part with one of their key players won’t be easy.
With a contract until 2025, the 27-year-old can command a high transfer fee which SPORT say won’t be under €100mn ($104mn). In recent weeks, TV3 also reported that the Premier PINC +1.5%+1.5% League champions’ asking price in negotiations will start “between €85 and €95 million ($90-$100mn)”.
Barca, who are in debts of around $1.5bn, want to set off from a much lower €60mn ($62.5mn), and it is believed that the potential sale of Frenkie de Jong could provide a turning point in the potential deal.
On Saturday, president Joan Laporta ruled that out by remarking: “We have no intention of selling him and he wants to stay. I will do everything in my power to make him stay.”
But Barca’s focus on Silva and three other stars in Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha – who they will have just €200mn ($210mn) to spend on after selling 10% of their La Liga television rights to American investment firm Sixth Street and a further 15% elsewhere – could see Laporta go back on his word.
In any event, Silva has also told manager Pep Guardiola of his desire to leave northwest England, and while the ex-Barca legend counts on him as a valuable member of his squad, he has already publicly stated that he doesn’t want to keep those that aren’t content.
“As of today, I think Bernardo will continue at Man City next season but as I always said, I don’t like to keep players that are unhappy,” Guardiola said when announcing a late-August friendly between City and Barca.
“But Bernardo is important and I think he will stay,” he concluded.
With Ferran Tores switching allegiances in January, it is clear that City are open to selling their stars to Barca for the right price.