BARCELONA • Spanish champions Barcelona's search for a striker to complement their feted "MSN" trident of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar - who netted a combined 131 goals in all competitions last season - has come to an end.
Yesterday they were on the verge of completing a reported €30 million (S$45.6 million) move for Spain international Paco Alcacer from Valencia after the striker arrived for a medical examination at Nou Camp.
According to Barcelona-based newspaper Mundo Deportivo, Alcacer will sign a five-year contract before reporting for international duty with Spain at their Las Rozas training camp in Madrid.
The player will be unveiled by the club at a news conference when he returns to Barcelona after Spain open their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign against Liechtenstein on Monday.
Alcacer, who turns 23 today, came through the ranks at Valencia and made his debut in 2010, although he spent the 2012-13 season on loan at Getafe.
He scored 25 La Liga goals in 51 starts in the last two seasons at Valencia and was Spain's top scorer in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with five goals but was excluded from the squad for the Finals.
Alcacer would be a welcome addition for Barcelona because, with Neymar still resting after his exertions for Brazil in the Olympics and Messi and Suarez missing several chances, they came through a gruelling La Liga test to beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 on Sunday.
At a rainswept San Mames, Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic glanced in Arda Turan's cross to settle the visiting side's nerves.
Luis Enrique's men almost lived to regret their profligacy as Bilbao's Raul Garcia fired narrowly wide and Iker Muniain had a late penalty appeal turned down.
Barcelona now have two wins from two league games this season and are second behind Las Palmas on goal difference.
"I'm happy with the result against an opponent of such magnitude," said Enrique, who had earlier warned that the visit to San Mames was always one of the hardest away trips for Barca. "We could have wrapped the game up earlier but it was a good performance and the three points are well earned."
Las Palmas emerged as the surprise leaders as La Liga goes into the international break.
The side coached by Quique Setien is providing an enjoyable contrast to Barcelona and Real Madrid, and followed up their 4-2 win in Valencia in the opening game with a 5-1 thrashing of Granada on Sunday.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS