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Barcelona eye sensational £72m raid on bitter rivals for Coutinho alternative

Barcelona are reportedly considering meeting Real Madrid star Marco Asensio’s £72m release clause in a shock move this summer.

The 21-year-old made 38 appearances for Madrid last season, scoring 10 goals and providing four assists and he’ll likely play a bigger role for Zinedine Zidane this year following the exits of Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez.

However, according to Diario Gol, he’s being lined up by Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde who continues to search for a replacement for Neymar after his big-money move to Paris Saint-Germain last month.

It’s added that Barca have essentially identified Asensio as a cheaper alternative to Liverpool ace Philippe Coutinho, as they have continued to fail in their attempts to prise him away from Anfield despite bidding £90m for the Brazilian international.

With Jurgen Klopp adamant that the playmaker is going nowhere, it has led to Asensio emerging as a shock alternative with doubts still surrounding his future at Madrid given the competition that remains.

He’ll likely start behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, while Lucas Vasquez is still at the Bernabeu and new signings may yet arrive.

Nevertheless, it seems highly unlikely that Madrid will hand over one of their most prized assets to their direct rivals, and so it remains to be seen how the situation plays out if the release clause is met.

Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele has also been heavily paired with a move to Barca, as per the report, and so the Catalan giants are still weighing up their options and have three weeks left to reach a final decision and possible deal for their preferred target.

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