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Bayer Leverkusen leapfrog Aston Villa in race for Barcelona starlet Ez Abde

Aston Villa’s quest to sign Barcelona prodigy Ez Abde has suffered a blow, with Bayer Leverkusen taking the driver’s seat.

As per Spanish media outlet Sport, the Bundesliga giants are ready to offer €20 million plus add-ons to lure the 21-year-old winger away from Camp Nou.

Following a decent loan spell at Osasuna last season, Xavi Hernandez gave the Moroccan a fair share of game time in pre-season, leading the youngster to believe he could reignite his Blaugrana prospects.

Abde has featured in both of Barca’s matches at the start of the new La Liga season, coming on as a second-half substitute in a 2-0 home win over Cadiz on Saturday.

With Raphinha serving a multi-game ban after picking up a red against Getafe on the opening weekend, Xavi has Abde and the 16-year-old Lamine Yamal as the only options on the wings.

However, that may not extend the former’s stay at Barcelona, with Leverkusen preparing a tempting offer to take him to the Bundesliga amid talks linking Sardar Azmoun with a move to AC Milan.

Xabi Alonso’s side sanctioned Moussa Diaby’s transfer to Aston Villa earlier in the summer, while Kerem Demiraby left the BayArena to link up with Galatasaray.

Victor Boniface and Jonas Hofmann have joined Die Werkself to plug the holes, but Leverkusen will launch a bid to sign Abde as they aim for a top-four finish this term.

Despite breaking the club’s transfer record to land Diaby, Villa have been linked with a swoop for the Barcelona forward amid an injury crisis.

Jacob Ramsey and Philippe Coutinho are on the sidelines, although Nicolo Zaniolo’s loan arrival from Galatasaray could deter Villa from stepping up their interest in Abde.

Unai Emery’s team bounced back from a humiliating 5-1 defeat at Newcastle United in their Premier League opener with a 4-0 thumping of Everton over the weekend.

Zaniolo wasn’t part of the matchday squad, but he could make his Villa debut on Wednesday when they meet Hibernian in the first leg of their Europa Conference League qualifying play-off tie.

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