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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Colin Millar

Xavi clashes with Barcelona chief as Cristiano Ronaldo transfer plan emerges

Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez and club president Joan Laporta are reportedly at odds on how the club should replace their outgoing veteran midfielder Sergio Busquets.

Barca supremo Laporta is pushing for the club to sign Wolves midfielder and Portugal international Ruben Neves, as the club supremo shares a close relationship with his agent Jorge Mendes. However, Xavi prefers Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Zubimendi.

Busquets is leaving the Camp Nou at the end of the campaign as his contract at the club expires with Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr hopeful of completing his signing. Cristiano Ronaldo completed a stunning move to Al-Nassr and is expected to earn in the region of £173million per year.

That deal came after Ronaldo ended his relationship with Manchester United by mutual consent in November following a bombshell interview with Piers Morgan. He may now link up with veteran midfielder Busquets – who is thought to be on Al-Nassr’s radar and could be the high-profile players who links up with Ronaldo.

Yet Barca are at odds over how to replace Busquets. The Catalan club’s sporting directorate are even advising that the club do not necessarily need to sign a replacement for the deep-lying midfielder but as Frenkie de Jong may be able to fill in the role.

De Jong has increasingly been at odds with the club's board including criticising them for leaking his contract details this summer and he is set to refuse Barca’s latest attempt to persuade the midfielder to reduce his salary. However, the Dutchman’s role in Xavi’s side has not been fully defined.

Wolves midfielder Neves is liked by Barcelona president Laporta (Getty Images)

Have Your Say! Is Busquets the greatest holding midfielder in football this century? Tell us what you think here.

Busquets is in his 15 th season at the Blaugrana and is set to make his 700 th first-team appearance for the club, but is out of contract this summer and is believed to have decided that it is time for him to move on from the Camp Nou.

His exit was always going to cause a dilemma for the club but Laporta’s preference for Wolves midfielder and Portugal international Neves does not share widespread support in the club. A report in Diario AS claims that Xavi is pushing for Real Sociedad’s Zubimendi – who has impressed for the Basque club and won his first cap for Spain last year.

Last week, Barca boss Xavi ruled out any exits from the Camp Nou first-team squad in January, telling the press: "I don't want Memphis [Depay] or any other player to leave in January. I think it's going be a quiet window for us."

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