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Barcelona covered several gaping cracks in their team this summer, reinforcing midfield, central defence, wing, and central attack with seven signings. These were headlined by Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, and Jules Kounde, among others. They could not, however, bring in a replacement or alternative for Sergio Busquets. The Barcelona captain still stands as the only natural defensive midfielder in the team, irreplaceable by any of his peers.

The Spaniard is set to depart the team after his contract expires in the summer of 2023, and finding his replacement will be the club’s top priority. Ruben Neves has been identified as the ideal player for that, by the club, and he is determined to join Barcelona, according to a report by Sport. So much so that he had received offers from Manchester United and Liverpool during the transfer window, but turned them down after hearing about Barcelona’s interest. He was close to leaving Wolverhampton Wanderers but is now willing to wait until 2023 for Barça.

Neves is convinced that he can succeed at Barcelona despite a differing playing style than Busquets, who has been the club’s starting #6 for well over a decade. During pre-season, Barcelona seemed convinced with Miralem Pjanic, but the player failed to find minutes during the initial weeks of the season. As such, he decided to leave, joining FC Sharjah on a free transfer.
Apart from Neves, Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi is another player Barça is keeping tabs on for the position. La Real, however, are keen on extending his contract with a refreshed €90 million release clause, putting him out of reach next summer, at the very least. Daniel Agger had previously urged Liverpool to sign the Portuguese star but it looks as though the Reds would have to look elsewhere.