Barcelona have reportedly made a lucrative offer to Theo Hernandez in order to hijack his potential move to Real Madrid. AS claims the Catalans could take the lead in the race to secure his services as both Atletico Madrid and the agent of the left-back would rather see him move to the Nou Camp than the Santiago Bernabeu.
Theo was linked with Barcelona during last summer's transfer window when the Catalans were seeking a replacement for Adriano. However, the La Liga giants eventually signed Lucas Digne from Paris Saint-Germain, while Theo inked a new long-term deal at the Vicente Calderon until 2021. He then agreed a loan move to Alaves.
Last week Marca reported that Real Madrid are prepared to meet his €24m (£20.5m, $25.4m) release clause, after the 19-year-old left-back became one of the sensations of La Liga in his first campaign in the top flight. The Spanish publication added the Frenchman has also already agreed terms with Los Blancos to make a shock transfer to Atletico's enemies.
However, reports in Spain since have claimed the deal is not done as other European giants are ready to battle for his services, including Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Marseille.
AS now reports Barcelona have taken the next step towards winning the battle after making Theo an offer with very similar terms to those tabled by Real Madrid.
The Spanish publication says Real Madrid have already reached a verbal agreement with the player worth €35m (£29.9m) over five seasons.
However, Theo is now considering the offer from Barcelona as both his agent, Manuel Garcia Quilon, and Atletico Madrid would prefer him to avoid Real Madrid.
AS points out that Quilon also represents Rafa Benitez and his relationship with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has been strained since Los Blancos decided to sack the current Newcastle boss.
Furthermore, considering that Barcelona would also pay Theo's €24m release clause in full, Atletico would rather sell to the Catalan side than their Madrid neighbours.
AS says Liverpool and Bayern have also expressed interest in the France U21 international but the player's preference would be to continue in La Liga.
Meanwhile, the Spanish publication adds that Theo's potential move to Barcelona would probably mean the exit of Jordi Alba, with the player recently admitting his frustration over the lack of playing time since Luis Enrique switched to a 3-4-3 formation.
Alba's departure could also help Barcelona beat out Real Madrid as the left-back knows at the Santiago Bernabeu he would only be a back-up for Marcelo.