Barcelona linked with surprise move for Premier League trio: Are these players good enough for the La Liga giants?

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Barcelona are planning a shock swoop for three Premier League stars as they look to shore up defensively ahead next season.

According to The Sun, the Blaugrana have identified Southampton pair Oriol Romeu and Cedric Soares as possible targets, while local publication Mundo Deportivo claims Hector Bellerin is on the list of players wanted at the Camp Nou.

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The Blaugrana are famed for bringing players through from their La Masia youth academy, with the likes of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi developing into world class players who helped the club in their European football dynasty over the past decade or so. But there are more talented players who have left the club and gone onto forge careers elsewhere. Romeu and Bellerin were among those, having started their footballing lives in Catalonia. Romeu left for Chelsea in 2011, while Bellerin joined Arsenal two years later.

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After time at Stamford Bridge, Romeu enjoyed spells in Italy and Germany before joining Southampton. With Busquets struggling for form this year, attention has turned to finding an alternative, and maybe even a replacement for him. Romeu is undoubtedly talented but he has no yet had his big break, but perhaps a return to Barça could kickstart his life at an elite level.

Hector Bellerin

As for Bellerin, he has been a target for the long-term after establishing himself as one of the best young fullbacks around at the Emirates Stadium. That position has been a real question mark for Barcelona since Dani Alves left for Juventus in the summer, and while Bellerin may seem like the natural heir to the Brazil star, so far they have struggled to lure their former youngster from North London.

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If any deal can’t be completed, The Sun says Soares is also on the club’s list. The Portuguese has impressed since arriving at St Mary’s from Sporting Lisbon in 2015, and his reputation has grown ever since his country won Euro 2016. But Mundo Deportivo also claims the club are chasing bigger names like Bayern Munich pair David Alaba and Josh Kimmich. Whether Barcelona, a club with heavy debts from the last few years, can afford those players remains to be seen.

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The need for a new fullback has been increased by a long-term injury to Aleix Vidal, leaving Sergi Roberto, a player converted to the role from central midfield, as Luis Enrique’s only real option until the end of the season. It looked for long periods like Vidal’s future did not lie with the club, but impressive performances before his injury impressed a lot of people, including Enrique.

Any deals, though, will likely have to wait until a new coach is found. Enrique announced last week that he would not be signing a new contract, thus departing the club after three years which have so far yielded five major trophies.

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