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Exequiel Palacios of Bayer Leverkusen linked to possible Barcelona move

Exequiel Palacios, Bayer Leverkusen's standout midfielder, has expressed his pride in being linked with a potential move to FC Barcelona this summer.

Following a superb season that saw Leverkusen clinch their first-ever Bundesliga title, reach the Europa League final and win the DFB-Pokal Cup, Palacios has drawn the attention of Europe's elite clubs, including the Catalan giants.

In an interview with Mundo Deportivo, Palacios remarked, "It is a pride that a big club like Barca pays attention to me." His impressive partnership with Granit Xhaka in midfield has been pivotal to Leverkusen's success, earning accolades for both players under the guidance of coach Xabi Alonso.

Barcelona, on the hunt for a midfield upgrade over Oriol Romeu, see Palacios as a prime candidate. However, acquiring him won't come cheap.

The 25-year-old Argentine, who joined Leverkusen from River Plate in 2020, recently extended his contract until 2028, with a transfer fee estimated between €35 million and €40 million.

Barcelona's financial constraints add another layer of complexity to the potential deal. Despite their interest, the club must navigate a tight budget, making significant financial adjustments and considering offers for nearly all their players except for a select few like Pau Cubarsi, Lamine Yamal, Fermin Lopez, Gavi and Pedri.

Additionally, Barcelona have shown interest in Girona midfielder Aleix Garcia, whose price tag is approximately half that of Palacios. Yet, even this reduced fee presents a challenge under Barcelona's restrictive spending cap.

Ironically, financially robust Leverkusen could also emerge as contenders for Garcia's signature, creating direct competition with Barca.

Next season, Barcelona will witness a new era under German head coach Hansi Flick, the first since Udo Lattek's brief tenure in the early 1980s. Flick's appointment follows the turbulent departure of Xavi Hernandez, who was dismissed just weeks after reversing his decision to leave.

Flick, who signed a contract until 2026, brings a wealth of experience from Germany, having been part of the coaching staff that led Germany to their fourth World Cup victory in 2014 and managing Bayern Munich to a Champions League title in 2020. His expertise will be crucial as Barcelona aim to rebuild and strengthen their squad.

Palacios's potential move to Barcelona remains a topic of keen interest, reflecting the high regard in which he is held. 

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