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Sporting midfielder Manuel Ugarte offered to Barcelona as Busquets replacement

Barcelona have identified a new candidate in Sporting CP midfielder Manuel Ugarte in their quest to find a replacement for Sergio Busquets.

Busquets’ contract at Camp Nou expires this summer, and no decision has been taken over his future.

He had been tipped to bid farewell at the end of the season, but there have been rumours suggesting he could be handed a new contract.

The Blaugrana captain is in the latter years of his career and Barca are exploring every avenue to find an heir to his throne.

According to Diario Sport, Barca have been offered the chance to sign Ugarte by his agent Jorge Mendes, who shares a good relationship with the club’s president Joan Laporta.

Ugarte has been viewed as an alternative to Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi, who is Xavi’s primary target but also an expensive one.

The Uruguayan midfielder has made huge strides with Sporting and was instrumental in his side winning the Taca da Liga last season.

Having made it to Uruguay’s World Cup squad in Qatar last year, Ugarte has also courted interest from Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur.

The 21-year-old is one of the best holding midfielders in Europe, with his combativeness and work rate only matched by a few players.

Ugarte has rejected a contract proposal from Sporting, suggesting he wants to pursue a new challenge.

Barca have lacked a physical midfielder in recent years. Franck Kessie was brought in last summer to tackle that issue, but he has been a disappointment.

Ugarte is a blend of both physicality and intelligence. His excellent dribbling and passing skills make him a top-class press-resistant midfielder and a perfect successor to Busquets.

The Uruguayan’s contract with Sporting expires in 2026. His signing would require a sizeable fee, but Blaugrana may be able to negotiate with the help of Mendes.

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