Barcelona winger Cristian Tello is set to complete a permanent switch to Fiorentina, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
The 24-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan at the Serie A side, scoring twice and providing five assists in 15 league appearances as La Viola finished sixteen points adrift of Champions League qualification.
In a report by Gazzetta, Paulo Sousa’s side have made Tello their primary summer target and will exercise their option to make his loan deal permanent for 8 million euros.
This development will come as a blow to Southampton, who recently launched a £10 million bid for the once-capped Spain international according to O Jogo. The Saints were also reportedly ready to offer much higher wages than their Italian counterparts.
However, Tello appears to have settled in Italy as he aims to fulfil the vast potential that had many tipping him for a bright future in the Barcelona first-team, especially after scoring seven goals in 12 La Liga starts as Tito Villanova’s side stormed to the title in 2013 with 100 points.
However, Tello now appears certain to depart his childhood club in the coming days, following fellow La Masia graduates Martin Montoya, Sandro Ramirez and Marc Bartra (below) out of the Camp Nou exit this summer.
Despite signing a four-year contract in December 2012, Tello found his path to the first team barricaded by the Galactico-esque arrivals of first Neymar and then Luis Suarez. He has not played a minute for the first-team since 2014, spending the last two seasons on loan at Porto and Fiorentina.
Tello may not be the last prodigious youngster to find the path to the first-team blocked by a raft of expensive imports. The signings of Arda Turan (below) and Andre Gomes have cast further doubt on the futures of Sergi Samper and Rafinha while Luis Enrique’s determination to sign a central striker would push Munir El Haddadi further down the pecking order.
Thus, the current multi-cultured, Qatar-funded first-team is a far cry from the Catalan-led XI that took to the field against Levante in November 2012 when former B-team coach Villanova fielded an entire team of homegrown players.
Three and a half years on, only five of the eleven remain.
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