Barcelona meet with agent of top Arsenal target but face major problem | Football

Mikel Arteta and Xavi both have their eye on the same midfielder (Picture: Getty)

Barcelona are stepping up their pursuit of Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi but rival suitors Arsenal still hold a significant advantage, according to reports in Spain.

The 25-year-old midfielder has enjoyed another strong campaign in San Sebastian and is attracting interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Arsenal, Barca and Bayern Munich.

Mikel Arteta is a long-time admirer, with the Gunners first linked with a move back in January 2023, and he is keen to strengthen his midfield this summer with question marks hanging over the futures of both Jorginho and Thomas Partey.

Meanwhile, fresh from U-turning on his decision to leave Camp Nou, Xavi has identified Zubimendi as his primary summer target and a player capable of finally filling the void left by Sergio Busquets.

According to Spanish newspaper Sport, it is Barca who are leading the chase with sporting director Deco having met with Zubimendi’s agent, Inaki Ibanez, on Monday.

The midfielder is keen to move to Barca, though it was made clear to Deco that Sociedad will not enter into negotiations and will only allow Zubimendi to leave if his release clause is paid in full.

Interested clubs can sign the Spaniard for €60million (£52.6m), but that fee would need to be paid in one up-front instalment – something Barca are not in a position to do.

Real Sociedad's Martin Zubimendi wanted by Arsenal, Bayern and Barcelona

Zubimendi is wanted by Arsenal, Bayern and Barcelona (Picture: Getty)

The Catalan club will therefore need to make a major sale before they can move for Zubimendi, which gives Arsenal – who have no such issues – a big advantage.

Still, Barca intend to continue working on the deal so they can be in a position to pull the trigger should their economic position change, with Brazilian winger Raphinha one player they would consider cashing in on to fund the deal.

Zubimendi, meanwhile, has played down the speculation surrounding his future and says he is content at Sociedad.

Asked about the links with Arsenal and Barcelona, he told Marca: ‘They are just rumours, I am happy at Real Sociedad, it is like my home.

‘I cannot say that I will play my entire career at Real Sociedad, perhaps the club won’t want me to continue in the future.

‘But I do not concern myself with these rumours.’

If Barcelona are unsuccessful in their pursuit of Zubimendi they could switch their attention to Joshua Kimmich, though he is less likely to push for a move if Thomas Tuchel’s successor restores him to the midfield.

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