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Man Utd eyeing transfer for Barca wonderkid who Xavi thinks is 'next Pique'

  /  autty

Manchester United are keeping tabs on Barcelona wonderkid Pau Cubarsi, who boss Xavi believes can be the next Gerard Pique.

Cubarsi made his Barca debut four days before celebrating his 17th birthday in January, slotting into the Blaugrana's defence with ease. His immaculate display as they beat Atletico Madrid 3-0 on Sunday marked Barcelona's fourth clean in five games, all of which their teenage centre-back has started.

Xavi has reportedly told confidants that Cubarsi is the heir to Pique's throne, with the club legend having retired in 2022 after his trophy-laden 14 seasons at the Camp Nou and a spell with United during his formative years. Cubarsi's rapid rise to becoming a crucial part of Barca's rearguard has been noticed by a number of Premier League clubs, including the Red Devils.

Catalan-based outlet Sport claim that United, alongside rivals Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea, are monitoring the 17-year-old, who Barcelona are keen to tie down on a new long-term contract. Cubarsi's current deal - which has a release clause of just €10million (£8.5m) - runs until 2026, but chiefs want to extend that by four years and implement a monstrous £1billion buyout clause.

There's also a legal sticking point for the Premier League quartet, as Brexit rules prevent them from signing him until he's 18. New United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe is keen on signing a new centre-back, with Mirror Football recently learning that the Red Devils are weighing up a bid for £75m-rated Everton hotshot Jarrad Branthwaite.

Sport's report adds that Cubarsi is focussed on his living his dream at Barcelona, having joined the La Liga giants from Catalan neighbours Girona when he was just seven years old. His breakout performance came in Barca's emphatic second-leg victory over Napoli in the Champions League round-of-16 last week, but in Madrid he was arguably just as impressive.

Days after being handed his first senior call-up to the Spanish national team, the talented defender further boosted his stock with a composed display against Atletico; completing the most passes in the match (73) while racking up six clearances, making two blocks and winning 100 per cent of his aerial duels. Cubarsi was so dominant over his man, Alvaro Morata, that the former Chelsea striker was subbed off at half-time.

After helping Barcelona beat Mallorca 1-0 earlier this month, Xavi claimed that Cubarsi 'plays like a captain'. "Today he had two very powerful strikers in front of him. He had an amazing game," the Barcelona manager, who'll leave at the end of this season, added to La Liga TV. "It's amazing. The personality that he showed for the team, I think it was spectacular today."

Although Barca would undoubtedly be reluctant to sell him, a huge bid from United could test their resolve. The Spanish champions remain in a precarious financial position, meaning that at least one star player is expected to be sold this summer to help ease Financial Fair Play concerns.