Barcelona hot on the heels of wantaway Mbappe

Monaco's teenage French striker Kylian Mbappe is one of the most sought-after players in this summer's transfer market, and Barcelona are pursuing him to replace Neymar.
Monaco's teenage French striker Kylian Mbappe is one of the most sought-after players in this summer's transfer market, and Barcelona are pursuing him to replace Neymar.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • France striker Kylian Mbappe yesterday asked to leave Ligue 1 champions Monaco, with Barcelona named among several big European clubs interested in signing him.

The 18-year-old shone for Monaco as they claimed the French title and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League last season but the forward wants to leave the club "very soon", French sports daily L'Equipe said in a report.

Monaco recently said they were hopeful that the teenager valued at €180 million (S$290.5 million) would agree to a new contract.

With Neymar on the verge of a record-breaking move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappe would represent an ideal replacement for the Brazilian at the Spanish club.

Barcelona are also reportedly interested in Liverpool's Brazilian forward Philippe Coutinho, who is valued at £110 million (S$196.4 million) and for long touted as the heir apparent to Andres Iniesta.

Coutinho's ability to also operate in a front three and his personal relationship with Barcelona striker Luis Suarez have seen a public courting this summer.

However, Liverpool have dug in their heels over Coutinho and are adamant that they will not sell him, having already rejected a £72 million bid.

Atletico Madrid's France striker Antoine Griezmann is another Barcelona target.

Established among the world's elite, Griezmann would fit in perfectly, but he has a €200 million release clause that is halved when Atletico's transfer ban expires on Jan 1.

The Spanish giants are also eyeing Juventus' Paulo Dybala, a friend and international team-mate of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

However, Giuseppe Marotta, the Juventus general manager, said last week Dybala would not be sold.

Possibly the most viable candidate for Barcelona is Dortmund's Ousmane Dembele, who is valued at £80 million.

The 20-year-old is quick, direct and fleet-footed and would represent an almost like-for-like replacement for Neymar.

Earlier this week, Demeble clashed with team-mate Roman Burki during a training session, sparking rumours of a move.

REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2017, with the headline 'Barcelona hot on the heels of wantaway Mbappe'. Print Edition | Subscribe