Nicolas Tagliafico has told Ajax he wants to join Barcelona this month after the Catalan club expressed interest in signing the defender on loan, multiple sources have told ESPN.
Barcelona are in the hunt for a left-back in January to compete with Jordi Alba and have focused on Tagliafico, who has a contract in Amsterdam until 2023, as well as another striker.
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Napoli have also contacted Ajax over Tagliafico but the Argentina international has made it clear that he only wants a move to Barca.
Sources say Ajax manager Erik ten Hag is reluctant to let the player leave this month with his side just two points clear of PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie and a draw in the round of 16. Champions League final against Benfica around the corner.
However, Tagliafico, who lost his place in the squad to Daley Blind, has spoken of his desire to take on a new challenge at the Dutch club.
Barca are looking for a short-term option at left-back until the summer and would prefer a loan with an option to make the deal permanent.
They will then reassess their options at the end of the season, with Valencia’s Jose Luis Gaya as their long-term target. Like Tagliafico, Gaya is in the final 18 months of his contract, although reports in Valencia suggest he is considering renewing his terms.
With a week to go before the transfer window, Barcelona are also keen to strengthen their attack, with Alvaro Morata still an option but are currently prioritizing the signing of another defender.
Alba, who is in his 10th season at Camp Nou, has been heavily criticized for his performances in recent weeks, prompting him to speak out after Sunday’s 1-0 win at Alaves.
“I’ve felt singled out for many years now, but I’m used to it and accepting the criticism,” Alba told ESPN.
“If I play well, nobody talks about me. If I have a normal game, they blame me for not scoring two goals. If I play badly, I’m killed.”
Barca have added Dani Alves and Ferran Torres to their squad so far in January. Any further signings will also depend on exits as they battle to stay within their La Liga-mandated spending cap for the season.