The bizarre transfer saga surrounding Jean Michael Seri and Barcelona could be set for a new twist as a report in Spain claims that the Catalans are "seriously" considering signing the OGC Nice midfielder during the coming January transfer window.
Catalan publication Sport says that sources at the La Liga giants have confirmed that deal could be completed ahead of the second part of the season, although they don't rule out the possibility of making a new attempt to lure Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool.
Seri, 26, was poised to move to Barcelona in the summer after it emerged that Ernesto Valverde had identified him as Marco Verratti's alternative to bolster the middle of the park.
It was said that Barcelona were ready to activate his €40m (£36m, $47.7m) release clause to complete the move with the player having previously admitted that his dream was to play at the La Liga giants.
However, when reports in Spain were saying that the deal was all but done it emerged that Barcelona had surprisingly abandoned their pursuit at the very last minute due to mysterious reasons.
Seri then attacked Nice for blocking his desired move, accusing his club of demanding Barcelona pay in excess of €40m amid suggestions that the aforementioned release clause had expired.
"The negotiations were broken because the talks between the two clubs went from bad to worse. From what I have been able to find out the transfer did not happen due to financial reasons," Seri said to Mundo Deportivo. "The officials of my club did not tell me anything, not even look me in the eye. It was clear that something had happened: they promised me one thing and then it turned out that they did not keep their promise, asking for more money for me."
However, Nice president Jean-Pierre Reiviere later denied the players' version, saying that it was eventually Barcelona that backed out of the proposed deal at the very last minute.
"On Wednesday morning, Julien Fournier [Nice's managing director] called me early and said, 'Jean-Pierre, I don't understand. I just got a call from Barcelona, they told me they're stopping with Micka [Seri],'" the Nice president said.
"In the afternoon, I got hold of [Barcelona president] Josep Bartomeu, a little embarrassed, who told me: 'Jean-Pierre, it's the first time that this has happened to us, but our technical staff have decided not to do Micka Seri. It's absolutely not a problem of money.'"
Sport claims that Barcelona eventually decided to pull out of the deal to focus their attention on the pursuit of Liverpool's Coutinho and Paris Saint-Germain's Angel Di Maria.
It is said Valverde decided to prioritize the arrival of new forwards to fill Neymar's gap, with the Catalans indeed unsuccessfully trying to sign both Coutinho and Di Maria until the deadline day.
However, Sport claims that club sources have told them that they are seriously considering bringing Seri to the Nou Camp in the coming January market.
The Spanish publication says that it would be easy for the Catalans to reopen the saga and complete the signing in the same €40m terms agreed with Nice during the summer.
Furthermore, Sport says that despite his disappointment, Seri would still be likely to join Barcelona as his dream to play at the Nou Camp remains unchanged.
Recently club president Josep Maria Bartomeu admitted that the La Liga giants are open to bolstering the squad in the winter market, with Sport adding that a new move for Liverpool star Coutinho is not completely ruled out either.
"Maybe there was the need to bring one more player to complete the squad but we decided not to go ahead with the negotiations [to sign Coutinho] due to the inflation in the market. Now we have to wait a few months until the January transfer window and, if we see that it is necessary [to sign more players], we will make some changes," the Barcelona president said earlier this month.