Xavi targets Chelsea duo on free transfers as he plots Barcelona shoestring rebuild

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Xavi is reportedly targeting Chelsea defenders Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen as part of his Barcelona rebuild effort. Azpilicueta and Christensen are out of contract with Chelsea next summer and the new Barca manager sees the duo as high-quality cut-price options for the Spanish giants.

Barcelona are operating under well-publicised financial restrictions after making a loss of £404million (€481m) in the last financial year.

The club have debts and future liabilities totalling £1.14bn (€1.35bn) and chief executive Ferran Reverter claimed in October that the club was “technically bankrupt” when Joan Laporta took over as president earlier this year.

Their perilous financial situation saw Barca take a cautious approach to recruitment in the summer, with Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia all joining on free transfers.

While Xavi has now taken over from Ronald Koeman, Barcelona’s strategy in the transfer market will not change in 2022.

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That means the Spanish club have their eyes on potential free transfers for the summer of 2022 – and has led them to Chelsea.

Journalist Gerard Romero is understood to have said on his Twitch channel that Azpilicueta and Christensen were targets, alongside more ambitious options Karim Adeyemi and Jose Gaya.

Adeyemi is under contract with RB Salzburg until June 2024 and is sure to be subject to intense competition, having caught the eye in European competitions.

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Gaya is Valencia’s captain and Barcelona are hoping to convince the 26-year-old left-back to move up the coast, rather than sign an extension with his boyhood club beyond his current contract until June 2023.

Azpilicueta is unlikely to be an easy acquisition, given his status at Chelsea, where he is captain and has made over 400 appearances.

ESPN says that Chelsea remain in negotiations with Azpilicueta and are hopeful he will extend, but the situation remains uncertain for now.

The 32-year-old’s ability to play at centre-back or right-back is admired by Xavi, while his leadership qualities are also important to Barca, who have a young backline at the moment.

While the experienced Gerard Pique remains on the books, the likes of Sergino Dest (21), Eric Garcia (20), Oscar Mingueza (22) and Ronald Araujo (22) are seen as the future of the defence.

Like Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger, Christensen is out of contract with Chelsea on July 1.

The Danish centre-back has impressed massively under Thomas Tuchel, but the club are having some difficulties in trying to reach an agreement to keep the 25-year-old.

Christensen recently admitted to Danish outlet BT that he did not know where he will be playing next season, but he was relaxed and felt valued at Chelsea.

“I’m happy,” he said. “I do not feel that there is any pressure or anything. I just enjoy it.”

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