Leicester City's Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez has been allowed to return to Europe from international duty to "finalise his transfer to a new club", his country's FA has confirmed.
Mahrez has offers from Arsenal and Chelsea in the Premier League, but is now understood to also be weighing up a potential move to LaLiga giants Barcelona, who have stepped up their interest in the 26-year-old.
Diario AS has learned that Barça, who have until 23:59 CEST on Friday night to make signings, have made contact with the ex-Le Havre man for accelerated talks over a switch to the Camp Nou.
Mahrez: Barcelona's plan B if Coutinho bid fails
However, the player has been told by Los Azulgranas that such a deal will only take place if they finally fail in their pursuit of Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho.
The cost of a move for Mahrez, who was instrumental in Leicester's shock Premier League title triumph in 2015/16, would be likely to reach around 50 million euros.
A left-footed attacker who tends to line up on the right, Mahrez's profile clashes with Leo Messi; but with time running out, Barça chief Josep Maria Bartomeu has been forced to turn to the Algerian as an alternative to Coutinho.