Manchester United and Arsenal will now need to pay a minimum of €30 million to sign Barcelona midfielder Sergi Roberto, who has been dubbed the ‘next Xavi’, after he agreed a contract extension with the Catalan giants.
A statement on Barcelona’s website published on Wednesday afternoon confirmed that Roberto, 22, will now be contracted to the Camp Nou until June 30, 2019. His current deal expires on June 30, 2015.
The statement adds that Roberto’s release clause, when he signs the paperwork in the next few days, will increase to €30 million. This could then rise to €40 million depending on how he performs over the course of the forthcoming seasons.
Roberto featured 27 times last season
The Spain Under-21 international made a total of 27 appearances in all competitions under former Barcelona boss Tata Martino last season, including 17 in La Liga.
However, Roberto has only made one appearance so far this season under new head coach Luis Enrique, who has favoured Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and summer signing Ivan Rakitic at the start of this new season.
The likes of Javier Mascherano, Sergi Samper and club legend Xavi are also competing for places in Barcelona’s midfield.
Roberto to stay despite fierce competition
But despite this intense competition for places, Roberto has agreed to stay put at the Camp Nou, and an announcement to confirm he has signed the deal should be made before the weekend.
Roberto could feature in this evening’s Champions League match against APOEL, alongside the likes of Samper and Munir El Haddadi.
Blow for United, Arsenal and Spurs - but there is hope
News that Roberto has agreed to extend his stay at Barcelona will come as a blow to both United boss Louis van Gaal and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, as well as Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino, who also had a keen interest in the classy midfielder.
But given the player’s age and the fact there is so much competition for places at the Camp Nou, this could merely be a ploy from Barcelona to make sure they get the best possible price for Roberto if they decide to sell either in January or next summer.
A €30 million - €40 million release clause is modest compared to many other players at both Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Roberto’s team-mates Pedro and Lionel Messi, for example, have release clauses worth €150 million and €250 million, respectively.
Cristiano Ronaldo, meanwhile, reportedly has an absurd €1 billion release clause in his contract.
Of course, these are designed to prevent any interested club from making an offer. But Roberto’s release clause suggests Barcelona may still wish to sell in the near future.