Barcelona may be forced to rethink their transfer plans after Newcastle registered an interest in the Spanish side’s top target to replace Sergio Busquets.
Busquets is out of contract at the end of the season and, while Xavi is hopeful his captain will extend his stay at the club, the 34-year-old has been considering offers from MLS and Middle Eastern sides.
Barca had been planning for a future without Busquets and they had been waiting to make a move for Ruben Neves after being priced out of a move for the Wolves midfielder last summer.
OPTIONS: Barca consider Busquets alternatives
However, their stalling may prove to backfire on Barca after Neves emerged on a list of targets for Newcastle this month, with the manager Eddie Howe looking to strengthen in defensive midfield.
The Daily Mail reports that no contact has yet been made between Wolves and Newcastle but that Neves matches the Magpies’ profile of a holding midfielder with a wide passing range and with Premier League experience.
With Neves having just 18 months remaining on his contract at Molineux and the 25-year-old showing no desire to renew, Wolves would consider cashing in on their captain for a fee of around €50 million.
Why Kessie could be key to Neves future
Neves is thought to prefer a move to Barca and reportedly rejected Premier League moves last summer to hold out for the Catalan outfit but there are no guarantees that the club can afford Wolves’ asking price.
The issue is also complicated by Xavi allegedly uncertain over Neves as a replacement for Busquets, with the Barca boss unconvinced at the Portuguese star’s ability as a lone defensive midfielder.
DOUBTS: Xavi unconvinced by Neves
As a result, the club prioritised other signings last summer and they may do so again this year if they can convince Busquets to remain for another season, or at least until next January.
The club, however, could have a solution by utilising Franck Kessie, with Barca already considering cashing on their summer signing following a disappointing first half of the season.
The Ivorian midfielder has ironically also been mentioned by Newcastle as a potential target but Barca could offer Kessie as a makeweight in any deal for Neves in order to reduce the asking price for the Wolves skipper.