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Barcelona 'dealt blow in Mikel Merino pursuit'

Barcelona 'dealt blow in Mikel Merino pursuit'
© Reuters
Barcelona may reportedly end their pursuit of Mikel Merino as Real Sociedad refuse to lower their €60m (£51.5m) asking price for the midfielder.

Barcelona may reportedly be forced to abandon plans to sign Real Sociedad midfielder Mikel Merino.

La Blaugrana manager Ronald Koeman is thought to be eyeing midfield reinforcements for the 2021-22 season, but the Catalan giants ultimately missed out on the signing of Georginio Wijnaldum to Paris Saint-Germain.

Wijnaldum was heavily expected to reunite with former Netherlands manager Koeman at Camp Nou, but Barca are now being forced to seek out alternatives.

Real Sociedad's Merino has reportedly emerged as a potential target, but Marca now claims that the cash-strapped Catalans may also be forced to end their pursuit of the 24-year-old.

Barca are focusing on the signings of free agents as they battle a mammoth €1bn debt, and the report claims that Sociedad will not allow Merino to depart for anything less than his €60m (£51.5m) release clause.

Merino scored two goals and set up six more in 36 appearances across all competitions last season, and his deal at Sociedad does not expire until 2025.

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Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum pictured on March 10, 2021
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina21131246
JapanJapan175830
United StatesUnited States16171346
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia10151136
AustraliaAustralia1031427
Great BritainGreat Britain891128
Today's Olympic highlights header

Saturday's key events


TRIATHLON
· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

SWIMMING
· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

ATHLETICS
· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

SAILING
· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

TENNIS
· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

> Today's schedule in full
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Swedish Allsvenskan
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League of Ireland Premier
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Major League Soccer
Brasileiro
Copa Diego Maradona
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