Deportivo Alaves have taken everyone by surprise in La Liga this season and coveted defender Guillermo Maripan has been central to their shock emerge as genuine Champions League contenders (The Mail).
The Chilean international is a rock at the back for the Babazorros with his combative style and willingness to put his body on the line catching the eye. Maripan has even piped up with a pair of goals and assists apiece at the other end of the pitch.
But considering that Maripan has been likened to Gerard Pique thanks to his ball-playing style, it is perhaps no surprise that Barcelona have also been mentioned as a potential destination.
According to Goal, the La Liga champions had expressed an interest in the so-called ‘new Pique’ two months ago. And Alaves coach Abelardo Fernandes was thrilled to see Maripan catch the eye of one of the continent’s genuine powerhouses.
"It's a compliment that teams like Barcelona are looking at a player like Guillermo,” said the former Sporting Gijon boss. "Guille is a very young player. He has a great capacity for growth and in recent games has grown tremendously. He's doing very well, he’s very reliable.”
With all due respect to Alaves, there is little they could do to stop Maripan from bidding farewell should a bigger club come calling.
And with Barcelona set to lose both Thomas Vermaelen and Jeison Murrillo in the summer, and with Samuel Umtiti continuing to struggle with injuries, West Ham could face some serious competition.