Manchester City and Chelsea fight to lure the 'next Lionel Messi' from Barca

FC Barcelona

According to a British newspaper, both Premier League champions Manchester City and European champions Chelsea are set to lead the chase to sign the 18-year-old Barcelona starlet that the Spanish press are calling the ‘next Lionel Messi’.

The Daily Mail claims that City are prepared to double the youngster’s current wages to bring him to the Etihad, whilst Chelsea were the favorites to sign him up until the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo, the subsequent turbulence is understood to have jeopardized the move.

Gerard Deulofeu is currently working his way up through the La Masia academy ranks where the Catalans hope he can become the next big thing at the Nou Camp.

He made hi first-team debut last season but has yet to make a senior debut for Spain. However, the forward has scored 14 goals for Spain at various youth levels.

He won the Golden Player award this year for his role in the Spain’s U-19 UEFA European Championships run. They’ve now won the trophy for two successive seasons.

Spanish newspaper Marca has taken to calling him the heir to the Messi throne, placing huge expectations on the youngster. There is no doubt he has the potential to become one of the best players in the world but questions have been raised about where his future lies.

He currently has an £8.1 million release fee in contract with Barca, leasing to speculation he may be lured away from the Nou Camp – something which the Catalan’s club president Sandro Rossell has taken marked exception to.

The president accused big-spending Premier League clubs of poaching their brightest prospects, with specific reference to Sergio Busquets who is understood to have been courted by both City and Chelsea.

"Busquets is the last try from City and in the past we have had the same situation for Messi, Valdes, Xavi and Puyol. But they have all stayed and this is the power and force of Barca. Some clubs have asked about Messi, but Leo personally has refused to negotiate," claimed Rossell.

He added,

"City are now doing at first team what Arsenal have been doing at academy: call players and offer them lots of money.”

Could Deulofeu be the next young La Masia graduate to make his way over the Premier League? If it’s only going to take £8.1 million to ask him, you can bet your bottom dollar, there’ll be plenty of clubs willing to try.

image: © mariosp

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