Spanish and European giants Barcelona have reportedly joined the race to sign Celtic’s Josip Juranovic when the transfer window opens next month as speculation surrounding the defender’s future continues to heighten.
The full-back, who is yet to return to Glasgow after starring for Croatia at the FIFA World Cup, is wanted by a number of clubs in January including the likes of Chelsea, Real Sociedad and Barca’s La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid.
The Parkhead club previously held talks with £20million-rated Juranovic and his representatives over an improved deal, but neither party could reach an agreement prior to him departing for the tournament in Qatar.
The 27-year-old - due back at the club’s training base following an extended break next week - has more than three-and-a-half years remaining on his current contract but the Scottish champions are bracing themselves for offers from clubs in Europe and the Premier League and could look to cash in on one of their prized assets.
Juranovic will be assessed on his return to Lennoxtown for the injury which kept him out of the third-place play-off victory over Morocco on Saturday. He was recently watched by members of Atletico Madrid’s scouting department during the match against Brazil in Doha.
Can Barcelona afford to sign Juranovic?
Barcelona have encountered some well-documented financial difficulties in recent years and president Joan Laporta stated last month that the Catalan club will find it challenging to make January additions due to Financial Fair Play restrictions imposed on them.
He said: “We had to make some levers, which were economic operations that saved the club from ruin, and now the club is in economic recovery. But despite that, according to the rules of financial fair play of the Spanish league, we cannot sign.
“Us and some other La Liga clubs are also trying to convince La Liga to be more flexibile, and allow us other types of interpretations that can make Barcelona even stronger.”
It is believed Nou Camp boss Xavi is still hopeful of strengthening his squad in January but is aware they might need to sell key players before they can enter the transfer market.
No bids received
Barcelona’s interest in Juranovic comes after Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou stressed the club have yet to receive bids for any his players ahead of their Scottish Premiership clash against Livingston on Wednesday night.
Centre-back Stephen Welsh has been linked with clubs in England, France and Italy over the past 24 hours, while Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis is also expected to leave the club.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Postecoglou said: “We haven’t had an offer for any player. If there’s an issue or if players have things put in front of them about their future, I’m sure they will come and see me, and (chief executive) Michael (Nicholson) will speak to their representatives. But right now there is nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. Nothing going on.”