Bayer Leverkusen star flattered by Barcelona interest

  • Exequiel Palacios has been linked with Barcelona
  • Midfielder has shone in 2023/24 for Bayer Leverkusen
  • Price tag rumoured to be between €35m and €40m
Exequiel Palacios has impressed in Bayer Leverkusen's midfield
Exequiel Palacios has impressed in Bayer Leverkusen's midfield / Stuart Franklin/GettyImages

Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Exequiel Palacios has admitted he is proud to know Barcelona are showing interest in him ahead of the summer transfer window.

Palacios played a key role in both Leverkusen's maiden Bundesliga title and run to the Europa League final this past season, forming a solid central partnership with Granit Xhaka.

His contributions, like so many of the squad moulded by Xabi Alonso, haven't gone unnoticed by bigger sides and Barca have been linked as they search for an upgrade on Oriol Romeu in midfield.

"It is a pride that a big club like Barca pays attention to me," Palacios responded, as quoted by Mundo Deportivo.

But the 25-year-old, recruited from River Plate back in 2020, signed a new long-term contract as recently as September that runs until 2028 and is priced between €35m and €40m.

That could pose a problem for Barca, who still have to make financial compromises and are potentially willing to listen to offers for almost all of their players except a select few - only Lamine Yamal, Gavi, Pedri, Fermin Lopez and Pau Cubarsi are considered non-transferable.

Exequiel Palacios
Palacios could be too expensive for Barcelona / Visionhaus/GettyImages

The Catalans have also been heavily linked with Girona midfielder Aleix Garcia, who might cost around half as much. Even that amount could be problematic under a restrictive spending cap, while a financially healthy Leverkusen could ironically provide competition in pursuing the Spaniard.

For the first time since the legendary Udo Lattek's short stint in the early 1980s, Barca will be under the guidance of a German head coach next season following the appointment of Hansi Flick.

His arrival comes after the farcical Xavi situation resulted in the Camp Nou icon being sacked a matter of weeks after he was persuaded to reverse his decision to walk away.

The new boss, on a contract until 2026, has never worked outside his native Germany in almost 30 years as a coach or manager. But he was part of the staff that secured Germany's fourth World Cup triumph in 2014 before leading Bayern Munich to Champions League glory in 2020.