Barcelona plotting 'Reinier-style' raid for Fluminense striker Marcos Paulo
Barcelona met with the player's family in Brazil over the summer. Real Madrid are aware of Barça's interest and are keeping tabs on the situation.
Reinier Jesus' imminent arrival at Real Madrid has has underlined the capital club's recent interest in talent emerging from Brazil. And Madrid are not the only ones looking to South America to poach promising players for the future. Last summer, Barça were looking to push through a similar operation in their attempts to sign Fluminense's 18-year-old striker Marcos Paulo.
Fluminense reject Barcelona's initial offer for Marcos Paulo
It was José Mari Bakero, Technical Secretary for Barcelona B, who flew out to Rio de Janeiro to overseee the signing of Marcos Paulo. He met with the player's family, who seemed all in favour of going ahead with the proposal. Bakero however, was only able to place an offer of 5 million euros - a figure which fell way short of Fluminense's expectations; the Brazilian club had already rejected an offer of 8 million from Red Bull-owened RB Bragantino, which could have paved the way for a move to either Leipzig or Salzburg.
When Madrid found out about Barça's bid, they asked for first-hand information directly from Juni Calafat, their Head of International Football. For Bakero, the situation was complicated by the fact that he didn't have the margin to push the transfer through; it just wasn't possible to justify paying a larger sum of money for a foreign player who then would be groomed in the reserves - a method which Madrid have used in similar projects.
Marcos Paulo's buy-out is €45M he could leave for a third of that
But all is not lost. Marcos Paulo is under contract until 2021 and with several European clubs interested in signing him, he is not considering renewing with Fluminense. So as far as Fluminense are concerned, it's a race against time. They need to sell the player in the short term - or run the risk of losing him on a free transfer next year. For Flu it would make more economic sense to sell Marcos Paulo for a fee of around 15 million euros (a third of the buy-out clause - 45 million) than receive nothing at all.
Born in Brazil, Marcos Paulo has decided to represent Portugal if he gets called up at international level. His grandfather on his mother's side is Portuguese which means he is eligible for a European passport and therefore would not occupy the place of a non-EU player - that is another big reason why Barça are studying signing him with Madrid on alert. In the final month of last year's Brasileirão he has scored three and created two to help the team avoid relegation.