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Report says FC Barcelona activate ‘Operation City’: keeping tabs on up 5 Manchester City players

FC Barcelona, Pep Guardiola’s previous team, are reportedly interested in up to 5 of his current Manchester City players.

Update:
FC Barcelona, Pep Guardiola’s previous team, are reportedly interested in up to 5 of his current Manchester City players.
PAUL CHILDSAction Images via Reuters

The words ‘FC Barcelona’ were splashed across headlines all across the world last summer for two things: not having and money and signing lots of players. Normally, those two things don’t go hand in hand, but what people didn’t realise was what Laporta had in his: ‘levers’. Now, I am surely not the only person who imagined the FC Barcelona president pulling a huge game-show style lever every time he activated one of them, but on a serious note they did allow the club to spend money they previously didn’t have.

Raphinha, Kessié, Christensen, Marcos Alonso, Joules Koundé and Robert Lewandowski were all brought in and registered thanks to the money that the levers raised, by selling off future assets of the club in exchange for quick-fire, one-off payments that have allowed them to compete at the top of LaLiga this season.

Laporta and Raphinha smile to the cameras during the Brazilian's presentation as an FC Barcelona player.
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Laporta and Raphinha smile to the cameras during the Brazilian's presentation as an FC Barcelona player.Joan M. BascuDiarioAS

Bernardo Silva links return

Now that the summer is fast approaching, reports are being circulated that the club’s spending is not over and done with, and that they have in fact drawn up a very curious plan: ‘Operation Manchester City’ is being talked about in Catalan outlet SPORT, in which they say FC Barcelona are eyeing up the signings of up to five first-team players from Pep Guardiola’s current squad.

The first name to be mentioned in Bernardo Silva. The Portuguese midfielder scored in City’s 2-0 win over Newcastle on Saturday 4 March, and has been deployed under Guardiola in a variety of positions from winger to midfielder to full-back. His links with a move to Spain go back as far as last summer, and local reports in Manchester say that the club would be willing to let him leave for around €65million.

The player has played 288 times for City, scoring 52 goals and grabbing 56 assists. He has won four Premier League titles, four EFL Cups and the FA Cup since his move from AS Monaco.

Bernardo Silva y Pep Guardiola, jugador y entrenador del Manchester City, conversan durante un partido.
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Silva has become a key figure in Pep's side due to his versatility on the pitch.PAUL ELLISAFP

A shocking Busquets replacement

Centre-back Aymeric Laporte comes next on Barça’s list of priorities for the summer, according to the report. Barcelona are looking for a left-sided centre-back and the Spain international features at the top of the list, even over Joško Gvardiol, who was considered. FC Barcelona currently have Marcos Alonso (a left-back) and Andreas Christensen (right-footed) as their two options on that side of defence so Xavi is clearly looking for a player more suited to the role.

Perhaps the most surprising name of them all is that of Rodri. Right from the off, this seems like an impossible move: the midfielder is arguably the keystone to everything City do. Haaland and De Bruyne get the headlines but without Rodri to conduct the orchestra, nothing in Pep’s side would be the same. City signed Kalvin Phillips from Leeds United in the summer of 2022 as a Rodri backup but he is yet to make any sort of impact due to injuries; letting the Spaniard go would be a potentially catastrophic error and one that Barcelona simply don’t have the money for. Nevertheless, the club see him as the ideal replacement for Sergio Busquets.

Rodri is the keystone to City's playing style.
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Rodri is the keystone to City's playing style.ADAM VAUGHANEFE

Loaning a World Cup winner

Someone who continues to be linked with a move to Camp Nou is German midfielder, Ilkay Gündogan. The 32-year-old’s contract runs out at the end of the season - meaning a fee agreement with City would not be necessary - and SPORT claim that he would be open to the move. A place in Xavi’s midfield would normally be hard to find but for a player of his quality, it would not be a problem: Gündogan has almost 300 games experience at City and is even now one of the club’s captains.

Julián Álvarez is the final new name to be linked with the Catalan club, and the report says that Barça would like the player on loan. The World Cup winner’s playing time has been something of a discussion in England, with the 23-year-old having scored 10 goals in 31 appearances in all competitions, including 2 in 6 in the Champions League. However, given the fact that he has played 90 minutes just 4 times all season, perhaps FC Barcelona believe they can tempt him with the promise of more time on the pitch.

Premier League 2022/2023

ClassificationPTSWMTMLM
1Arsenal632033
2Manchester City581844
3Manchester United491545
Full classification
Upcoming matches
Crystal Palace - Manchester CityS-11/03 12:30
Manchester City - West Ham UnitedS-19/03 12:30
Manchester City - LiverpoolS-01/04 07:30
Calendar

*Data updated to date Mar 5th, 2023

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