Tactical Insights

Deco plots surprise move for Argentina star who’s close with Lionel Messi

Barcelona have identified Leandro Paredes as a target to strengthen their midfield, according to reports.

Barcelona are known to be in the market for central midfield additions this summer, and they have repeatedly been linked with Everton star Amadou Onana. But Everton will demand big money before letting the 22-year-old leave, which has forced Barca to look at viable alternatives.

The Blaugrana are known to be tracking Real Sociedad duo Martin Zubimendi and Mikel Merino, two players who have coincidentally been tipped to make Premier League moves.

But according to fresh reports coming from Spain, Barca sporting director Deco is weighing up whether to go in a completely different direction by capturing Paredes.

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The 30-year-old ended his four-and-a-half-year association with Paris Saint-Germain in August 2023 by joining Roma for just €2.5m. Paredes has put in some top-quality performances since then, leading some reporters to describe him as an ‘outstanding’ midfielder, and resulting in Barca taking a keen interest.

As Barca are still operating on a tight budget, they are having to prioritise deals for cheaper players who will not break the bank or the club’s wage structure. Paredes fits the bill due to his age and the fact his Roma contract expires in June 2025.

Despite these factors, Paredes would still be a solid addition to the Barca squad, having represented major clubs such as Roma, Juventus, PSG and Boca Juniors during an eventful career.

Paredes also made five appearances at the 2022 World Cup, as Argentina lifted the trophy for the third time.

Barcelona transfers: Roma star eyed by Deco

The three-time Ligue 1 winner is good friends with Barca legend Lionel Messi, having played for both PSG and the Argentina national team alongside him, while the pair also went on holiday together earlier this year.

But during a Champions League clash between Messi’s Barca and Paredes’ PSG in 2021, Paredes wound his compatriot up so badly that Messi wanted to ‘kill’ him.

“He got angry, because I had made a comment to my team-mates and he heard me, and he got angry,” Paredes told reporters in 2023.

“He became really angry. He f***** me up. It was bad. He wanted to kill me and I wanted to go home.”

Messi and Paredes remain close, despite that one-off incident. Paredes was the first one to hug Messi after Argentina won the World Cup, and when asked about this, he replied: “That hug with Messi, I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life.

“Turning around, seeing him on his knees and being the first to hug him as a World Champion was incredible.

“I yelled at him ‘We are World champions’ and he just told us ‘Thank you, thank you, I love you.’”

READ MORE: Every La Liga player whose contract expired at the end of the 2023-24 season

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