Barcelona's technical secretary, Robert Fernandez, has suggested signing a right-back is the club's top priority for the upcoming summer transfer window, amid reports linking them with Arsenal star Hector Bellerin. Meanwhile, the club chief also spoke about potential future moves for Real Madrid star Isco, Everton's on-loan Gerard Deulofeu and Juventus ace Paulo Dybala.
Sergi Roberto and Aleix Vidal have covered the right-back slot during the current campaign after Luis Enrique's side lost Dani Alves to Juventus in the summer.
However the latter has been sidelined since February while Sergi Roberto is expected to return to his usual role in the middle of the park for the 2017-18 season.
It is thus no surprise to see the club linked with Bellerin, who grew up in their La Masia academy before switching to North London in the summer of 2011.
Bellerin told IBTimes UK last week that he knew nothing about interest from Barcelona. However, the Catalans' technical secretary has now confirmed that the club plan to sign a right-back in the summer, suggesting that the Arsenal ace could be one of their targets.
Asked by RAC1 whether signing a right-back is Barcelona's priority for the coming summer transfer window, Fernandez said: "We can do something there. It's true. We can do something because Sergi Roberto is an extraordinary player, but we believe that he also can help us a lot in the midfield. And then there is the misfortune of Aleix. Signing [a right-back] could be now important.
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"Last year we didn't sign one because we felt that we already had that position covered with Sergi Roberto and Aleix Vidal. Why sign a third one?"
Questioned whether the Arsenal right-back is the top target, he said: "Well, Bellerin is a player who has a contract at Arsenal. He is a magnificent player, undoubtedly, but there are more right-backs [who could be interested]. Barcelona have the obligation to have many right-backs under control."
Rac 1 recently reported that Barcelona had offered Isco a signing bonus of €20m (£17.1m, $21.3m) to turn down a new deal at Real Madrid and move to the Nou Camp as a free agent at the end of next season.
Isco has since ruled out that possibility, suggesting that he is ready to put pen to paper on a new long-term deal at Real Madrid.
Asked whether Barcelona could still make a move to sign the midfielder, Fernandez said: "Isco has a contract at Real Madrid. He is a good player. It's true, but I'm not saying anything new."
A move for the Real Madrid midfielder looks very unlikely but the Catalans are expected to add another Spaniard ahead of the 2017-18 season in the shape of Deulofeu.
Barcelona have a €12m (£10.2m, $13m) option to re-sign Deulofeu thanks to a buy-back clause inserted in his sale to Everton in the summer of 2015.
Fernandez had previously said Barcelona were ready to activate that clause in order to make him the club's first signing of the summer window following his breakthrough loan spell with AC Milan.
However, the club chief has now backtracked, after it was reported the Everton forward will have the final word on the deal – and wants guarantees over playing time before making a decision.
"We have the option to incorporate him by activating the clause. We can do it, we will think about it. He is playing well and as a starter. I like him. He's a young player who came from our academy. He has good conditions to help the team. It's an option that I really like but we have to wait. This season he had a difficult start at Everton but he is doing well at Milan. He is playing well and was called up by the national team. This is good news for the club," the Barcelona chief said.
"He has an important role to play [in the final decision]. The decision of the player is always important. Clubs have an important role [in a signing], but players do as well. The player has an important part in the final decision."
Meanwhile, Fernandez appeared to rule out a potential move for Juventus star Paulo Dybala after claiming that Barcelona already have football's top attackers in Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
"He is a magnificent player, but we already have the best three [forwards] in the world," Fernandez said.
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