Andres Iniesta bid an emotional farewell to Barcelona on Friday afternoon when the 34-year-old announced the worst kept secret in football – that his next few games in the famous blue and red will be his last.
Barcelona face an almost impossible task replacing one of the most gifted footballers of his generation.
But, according to Catalan publication Mundo Deportivo, the La Liga leaders hope that Real Betis’s Fabian Ruiz could be the man capable of succeeding their legendary number eight on the left side of midfield.
The 22-year-old Ruiz has been one of La Liga’s breakout talents in 2017/18, producing a number of masterful performances for Quique Setien’s Europa League-chasing team.
The report states that Barca have been tracking the Spain U21 star for some time and are now ready to bring him to the Camp Nou by triggering the £26 million release clause in his contract.
So any hopes Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez might have harboured of bringing his gifted compatriot to St James’ Park look over.
The Sun (26 January, page 59) reported that Newcastle had joined Everton, Tottenham and West Ham in checking out the composed and classy Ruiz, when his release clause was just £13 million. He has since signed a new deal until 2023.
Moving to the Premier League may have been a good move for the youngster, especially to a Newcastle side run by Benitez and containing his Spain youth teammate Mikel Merino.
But the opportunity to replace Iniesta at Barcelona is a simply glorious opportunity that he should not turn down.
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