Barcelona are monitoring West Ham United sensation Dimitri Payet, ahead of a possible transfer move, according to Mundo Deportivo. However, the Spanish publication says the Frenchman is not one of Luis Enrique's top priorities, with the Catalan club describing him as "interesting but very expensive".
The current Champions League title-holders have publicly admitted their transfer goals for the coming mercato are a centre-back to partner Gerard Pique and a versatile forward to serve as back-up for the MSN trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. Marquinhos and Aymeric Laporte have accordingly been linked to Barcelona in recent weeks, while the likes of Sevilla striker Kevin Gameiro and Ligue 1 starlet Ousmane Dembele have been tipped as the potential candidates to strengthen the attack.
Mundo Deportivo has revealed, though, that Barcelona have also scouted players in other positions to take advantage of opportunities offered by the market, or to cover the departure of any current stars – amid recent reports linking Arda Turan with a move to China.
It is thus, according to Mundo Deportivo deputy chief Miguel Rico – a respected source on Barcelona issues – that the name of he PFA Player of the Year nominee has emerged.
Reports in the English press had already reported the presence of La Liga scouts keeping an eye on the Hammers' midfielder, after an impressive Premier League debut campaign that saw him score 12 times and provide 11 assists in his first 32 appearances.
Mundo Deportivo have confirmed those reports, saying Barcelona have followed the player since his Ligue 1 days. The story continues that the Catalans see him as an "interesting player", but also one who is "very expensive". This suggests he is not a major priority for the upcoming window as West Ham would command a significant figure to part ways.
The report does suggest that the club could consider a move in future, with the 29-year-old Payet's age not being an impediment, as Arda Turan was 28 when they signed him from Atletico Madrid in a €34m (£27 m, $38.3m) plus add-ons deal.
Earlier this week, West Ham boss Slaven Bilic express confidence Payet would remain under his charge next year, as the player has a deal lasting until 2021. However, he admitted it is normal the Frenchman's performances have attracted the eye of Europe's elite, with reports suggesting Paris Saint-Germain were considering a £40m offer.
"The big clubs will always want to buy those players," Bilic said, as quoted by Daily Mail. "What can you do, what should I tell him? Do I drop him or tell him to start playing bad so he's going to stay with us for 10 years? Score some own goals but then we're going to have you for five years... I have said my opinion. He is enjoying it here, it's obvious. He's enjoying it in training, in every minute he's spending here. We are enjoying him, he is enjoying us. When the players play good, there's always going to be rumours or interest."