FC Barcelona captain Sergio Busquets has reportedly told the club he wishes to leave in the summer, with Thursday’s match against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-finals set to be his last Clasico at the Bernabeu.
Busquets has been a mainstay in the Barca midfield since Pep Guardiola took a punt on him and elevated him from the B reserve team in 2008.
Racking up 700 appearances for them, the Spain international is a club legend with three Champions League wins to his name and eight La Liga trophies likely to become nine considering Barca’s seven point lead over Madrid at the Spanish top flight summit.
Set to turn 35 in mid-July, Busquets is out of contract from June 30 onwards. His manager Xavi Hernandez has made no secret of the fact that he wishes to hold on to the number ‘5’, who has offers from the MLS and the Premier
Barca are said to have tried to offer Busquets a reduced salary lower than the reported €23 million ($24.5 million) he currently takes home every season.
According to El Nacional, this has dissatisfied Busquets who longs for a challenge elsewhere and has told president Joan Laporta that this season will be his last.
This leaves Xavi in a quandary considering that he has no natural heir for the skipper in his current squad and no cash to sign a replacement.
Getting Busquets’ salary off the payroll would be a blessing considering La Liga president Javier Tebas has gone on record saying that €200 million ($212.6 million) must be shed from it. But Barca are unable to afford fees such as the €70 million ($74.4 million) it is said they will need to sign Martin Zubimendi from Real Sociedad.
Ruben Neves from Wolverhampton Wanderers in England won’t be much cheaper, but his agent Jorge Mendes – who also represents Ansu Fati – is said to have recommended a lower-cost option in Uruguay and Sporting Lisbon star Manuel Ugarte.
Given they need reinforcements elsewhere, Barca might be wise to let Busquets go and recall Nico Gonzalez on loan to partner Frenkie de Jong in a double pivot.
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