Chelsea have reportedly agreed a deal to sign highly rated Barcelona teenager Josimar Qunitero at the end of the season.
The 16-year-old attacking midfielder has told the Catalan club he would not sign a senior contract at the Nou Camp and would now join the ranks at Stamford Bridge in the summer, according to Goal.com.
Quintero is an Ecuadorian national and has a reputation for speed and a direct style of play. The teen can play either behind the striker or out on the wings. If he does move to England, he could be the second La Masia graduate to choose the Premier League over a future with Barcelona.
Centre-back Julio Pleguezuelo is expected to complete his transfer to Arsenal in the summer; the 16-year-old was reportedly being groomed to take over from Carlos Puyol. Meanwhile, Liverpool and Tottenham are understood to be battling it out for winger Sergi Canos, who represented the Spanish youth divisions in a tournament involving Italy, France and the Czech Republic.
Spanish newspaper Marca reports Chelsea offered Quintero a financial package worth ten times what Barcelona were willing to pay, and this included benefits for his family. The teen would have earned €12,000 per week in Spain. The Blaugrana's vice-president, Josep María Bartomeu, has made it clear the club will not start a bidding war with the Blues.
"Neither do we want to, nor are we able to compete. Our priority is to try and convince the lad and his family that staying at Barcelona is the best possible option," Bartomeu pointed out.
Given this reluctance to offer big-money wage packages to teenagers, Barcelona can expect to lose more than a few promising youngsters to English clubs.
Roura: Focused on Clinching La Liga
Finally, Barcelona assistant manager Jordi Roura claims the club will pick the strongest available side for the weekend's league game against Levante. The Catalans host the league's oldest side with a 13-point lead over arch-rivals Real Madrid and only seven games left in the season.
It would therefore be tempting to field a slightly weaker side and rest key players, with a Champions League semi final against Bayern Munich to come in midweek.
"Every game is vital. We are preparing for the game with all the intensity and enthusiasm possible. La Liga is our domestic tournament, it's the bread and butter. Even if the league is the only trophy we win, we will still be very proud of the season we have had. We will put out the best possible players to take on the match," the coach stressed.