Pep Segura and Ramon Planes are to make the trip to South America to run the rule over the highly rated youngsters this week.
Pep Segura and Ramon Planes, Barça’s sporting manager and technical secretary respectively, have made finding a central defender for the future their chief priority and are to comb the South American market in search of an eventual successor to Gerard Piqué.
Segura and Planes are particularly interested in two young Brazilians: Flamengo midfielder Lucas Paquetá and Palmeiras central defender Vitao. Barça have been tracking Paquetá for some time but face competition from AC Milan with Globoesporte stating that the Serie A side have already reached an agreement with Flamengo for the 21-year-old for a fee of 35 million euros.
Vitao, a right-footed central defender, can also play in defensive midfield and is a regular for the Brazil under-20 side. Segura and Planes’ idea is to take a closer look at the 18-year-old when Palmeiras take on Boca Juniors on October 25 in the Copa Libertadores semi-finals in La Bombonera.
Copa Libertadores semi-finals a shopping expedition for Barça
While there, the Barça executives will also be taking notes on Agustín Almendra, an 18-year-old midfielder and captain of Argentina’s under-20s. The precocious Almendra was elevated to the senior squad by Guillermo Barros Schelotto last summer and has already been linked with some of Europe’s biggest spenders. Boca central defender Leonardo Balerdi is also on Barça’s watch-list.
Taking full advantage of their stay in Buenos Aires, River Plate’s Gonzalo Montiel will also be watched by the visiting Barça directors when Los Millonarios host Grêmio in the other Libertadores semi-final. Montiel, a 21-year-old defender who can operate across the back four, is generally played as a central defender or on the right and his versatility has attracted interest from Camp Nou in the middle of a defensive crisis for Ernesto Valverde over the next few weeks.
*Update 14 de octubre de 2018