May 26, 2014, 9:56 AM EDT
According to a report by France Football, a representative for Roma defender Mehdi Benatia is in Spain to talk with Barcelona about a possible transfer.
The in-demand defender, linked to Manchester City and Chelsea, helped Roma to secure an impressive second-place finish in Serie A this year, even giving champions Juventus a look or two over their shoulder in a year when they otherwise blew away the competition.
A report just three days ago in the Daily Mail mentioned new Barcelona manager Luis Enrique was interested, but quoted Roma boss Raul Garcia with saying Benatia would be staying.
Garcia noted the 27-year-old has a contract through the summer of 2018 with no release clause, so any interested club will have to pony up serious money for Benatia.
But, Garcia also admitted, “It’s logical that clubs are looking at him, given the season he had.”
However, it would appear the player is attempting to test the market and see what other clubs can offer, and a move to Barcleona would be hard for the Moroccan international to turn down, especially if they could convince him he would start in the new revamped team.
Enrique will likely be making big changes around the Nou Camp, especially to the defense, after Carlos Puyol retired, Javier Mascherano is linked with a move away, and young Marc Bartra has struggled to secure consistent time.
Benatia made 33 Serie A appearances in his first season with Roma after a $20 million move last summer from Udinese.
- Russia, Vladimir Putin criticize US government for “illegal persecution” of FIFA 9
- FIFA ethics committee bans 11 current, former officials from all football-related activities 5
- UEFA calls for postponement of FIFA presidential election, threatens to boycott congress 5
- FIFA president Sepp Blatter releases first statement since overnight arrests 11
- Three things we learned from the US Department of Justice news conference on the FIFA investigation 6
- FIFA presidential elections will go on Friday despite arrests 6