Manchester United and Liverpool's pursuit of Ivan Rakitic looks to be over after reports that the player has agreed personal terms with Barcelona over a €20m move.
The 26-year-old playmaker, who also can play in a deeper position, has become a sensation in Spain and has excelled this season for Sevilla, scoring 12 goals and grabbing 12 assists in 34 domestic league appearances.
According to Sport, the Croatian will sign for Barca for a fee of about €20m on a 5-year deal and will earn €8m per season – even though he has a €40m release clause in his contract. Barcelona are considering including Liverpool target Cristian Tello in the deal to reach an agreement.
The two parties have reached a firm agreement, with only minor details left to be ironed out - so it is expected to be completed before the start of the World Cup on 12 June.
Rakitic will fill one of the vacancies that will arise in midfield given the probable departures of Alex Song or Cesc Fabregas, both of whom are heading to the Premier League. Barca need to fill those gaps with a player who provides a better balance in the midfield – and Rakitic meets all the requeriments.
Fabregas is likely to move to Chelsea shortly as Blues boss Jose Mourinho has confirmed that he is interested in signing the United target this summer, saying: "I am interested to look at his situation. I think he is eager to leave Barcelona and very motivated by the idea of returning to England. I think that is pretty clear."
A number of big clubs have been reportedly monitoring Rakitic's development in order to secure his services this summer, such as Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, United and Liverpool. Last December Brendan Rodgers' scout was spotted watching him against Villarreal, while former United boss David Moyes was reported to be monitoring his progress.
But it seems that the Croatian has made his decision and his future lies at the Camp Nou.