Barcelona remain confident of completing the signing of a striker before the end of the week after club technical director Robert Fernandez returned from his scouting trip to South America, according to Mundo Deportivo. The Spanish publication claims that the La Liga giants have already identified the targets, naming five potential candidates including West Ham-bound Jonathan Calleri, Gremio striker Luan, coveted Gabriel Barbosa Gabigol, France international André-Pierre Gignac and even veteran Paolo Guerrero.
The Barcelona director of professional sports Albert Soler revealed earleir this month that the technical secretary had travelled to South America with hopes of securing the services of a promising striker, having been repeatedly knocked back by the likes of Luciano Vietto, Nolito, Hatem Ben Arfa and Ousmane Dembele due to the players' reluctance to serve as an understudy to the trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar popularly known by fans as 'MSN' .
Gabriel Jesus was then said to be their top priority but the Palmeiras sensation has since opted to join Manchester City.
Mundo Deportivo however claims Barcelona still have a backup plan which could result in a signing as early as this week, with hopes to have the mystery player available for the La Liga opener against Real Betis on 20 August.
Sport, the other Catalan publication, reported earlier this week that the chosen one was Luan and that Barcelona were ready to step up the negotiations to complete his signing before Sunday.
Mundo Deportivo further claims that, even though Luan is on Barcelona's shopping list, he is not the club's number one target. Neither is former Bayern Munich star Paolo Guerrero who has already been ruled out from the final list despite been touted as a candidate.
The Spanish publication suggests that sources at Barcelona claims the preferred player is a forward who has played Brazilian football though not a Brazilian. This would automatically rule out Gabigol and put Calleri in focus despite the Argentinian star recently revealing he was set to move to West Ham.
The 22-year-old Argentinian striker played on loan at Sao Paulo from Boca Juniors and on 2 August confirmed to ESPN: "The deal is done. It is sure that I am going to play at West Ham.
"All that is left to finish is the work visa and if there are no other problems, if all goes well, I will be playing there. Playing in Europe has always been my dream. It is a league that has everything, great players, great managers. I would like to be able to perform at that level and that is why I want to go there."
However, it has been more than a week since Calleri announced the move to the Hammers and neither him nor West Ham have made anything official yet.
Mundo Deportivo believes that this "mysterious" silence suggests Barcelona may still gazump West Ham's "done deal" with a last-ditch attempt to sign the Argentinian forward, who is currently playing at the Rio Olympics 2016 with his national team.
But Hammers fans should not be that worried. Mundo Deportivo also claimed Barcelona had made a desperate attempt to beat Manchester City for Gabriel Jesus' signature earlier this month, only for the Brazilian starlet to move to the Etihad Stadium.