Barcelona are reported to have made another enquiry over the availability of Chelsea defender David Luiz, having made an offer for the Brazilian in the summer.
The Blues are said to be prepared to let the 26-year-old head to the Nou Camp as long as the Spanish league champions meet their hefty valuation, and are believed to be lining up St Etienne centre-back Kurt Zouma as a potential replacement.
Luiz admitted that he had the chance to join Barcelona in the summer, but decided that his future (in the short-term) lay at Stamford Bridge.
Speaking to Brazilian newspaper Gazeta Esportiva in September, Luiz said: “There was an official offer (from Barcelona), but I decided to stay at Chelsea.
Despite criticising previous Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez’s decision to deploy Luiz in a holding midfielder role, Jose Mourinho chose to do the same in the 2-1 victory over Liverpool in an effort to stifle the threat posed by striker Luis Suarez and the resurgent Jordan Henderson.
Luiz was suspended for the New Year’s Day encounter with Southampton, and having impressed in recent weeks it had seemed that he was edging back into consideration to partner the ever-present John Terry in Chelsea’s central defence, with Mourinho alternating between Luiz and England international Gary Cahill.
However, the potential sale of Luiz would likely force the Blues to increase their interest in Zouma, with opposition for the 19-year-old’s signature coming from Manchester City among others across Europe.
Chelsea recorded over a £49m loss for the last year, although this figure is offset by £15m in the financial fair play regulations once the cost of youth development, infrastructure and charitable giving is deducted.
An extra £25m – the fee believed to have originally been offered by the Catalan club for Luiz – would be more than enough for Chelsea to make a serious bid for Zouma and stay with the FFP restrictions.
Barcelona have been looking to add a central defender to their squad given the doubts over the long-term fitness of club captain Carlos Puyol, as the Spaniard edges towards the twilight of his playing career.
Current manager Gerardo Martino has Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano as his first team regulars, with Marc Bartra providing cover.