Barcelona are set to sign AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie on a free transfer ahead of the 2021-22 season after agreeing a deal with the 25-year-old Ivory Coast international.
The Catalan giants have now “closed the final details” of the transfer with Kessie’s agent George Atangana, sources close to the deal told Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens at ESPN.
Kessie was offered to Barcelona in summer 2021 but then-manager Ronald Koeman and his staff turned down the midfielder because they were “not convinced that he had the technical quality to wear Blaugrana,” as reported by Diario Sport.
Koeman wanted to sign Georginio Wijnaldum from Liverpool instead but the Dutchman opted to move to Paris Saint-Germain. The Dutchman also preferred Denis Zakaria, who joined Juventus in January, to Kessie.
Barcelona reopened negotiations with Kessie’s representatives following Koeman’s departure in October 2021 with new manager Xavi key to getting the deal done, as reported by transfer expert Fabrizio Romano.
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What Can Barcelona Expect From Kessie?
Barcelona already possess a host of quality midfield options in the shape of Sergio Busquets, Pedri, Gavi, Nico Gonzalez, and Frenkie de Jong but look set to have one more next season in the shape of Kessie.
The 25-year-old began his career with Ivorian side Stella Club d’Adjamé before moving to Europe and Italian side Atalanta in 2015. Kessie then moved on to AC Milan in 2019 after a successful loan spell at the San Siro.
The Ivorian is known as a defensive midfielder but can play anywhere in central midfield and does have an eye for goal. Kessie has six already for AC Milan so far this season.
Kessie is also known for his strength and athleticism which means he does have a slightly different profile to the midfielders already at Xavi’s disposal. He may not be a regular next season at Barcelona but on a free transfer he looks an astute signing.
Does Kessie Spell The End For Puig?
The arrival of Kessie means more competition in midfield at Barcelona and could spell the end of the road for Riqui Puig. The 22-year-old is already behind Busquets, De Jong, Nico and Gavi in the pecking order at the Camp Nou.
Puig has spoken out about his situation at the club and admitted he is “not having the minutes that I would like to have” and that situation is only likely to continue if he does stay at Barcelona next season.
The Catalan giants “have received many offers to take him [Puig] on loan,” from clubs across La Liga and also from teams in England, Italy, and Germany as reported by Diario Sport.
Puig impressed in Barcelona’s 4-0 win over Osasuna last time out, coming off the bench and scoring the team’s final goal, but it may be a case of too little too late for the midfielder who will turn 23 in August.