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Barcelona 'preparing move for Watford winger Yaser Asprilla'

Barcelona 'preparing move for Watford winger Yaser Asprilla'
© Reuters
Barcelona reportedly hold an interest in 20-year-old Watford attacker Yaser Asprilla, who could command a €50m (£42.9m) fee to leave Vicarage Road this summer.

Barcelona allegedly hold an interest in Watford winger Yaser Asprilla amid his rise to prominence in the Championship this season.

The 20-year-old attracted glances from the Hornets during his time with Envigado in his native Colombia, earning a €3m (£2.6m) switch to Vicarage Road midway through the 2021-22 campaign.

Asprilla was immediately loaned back to his homeland for the remainder of the season before being integrated into the Watford squad that same summer, and he turned out for the Hornets on 39 occasions in 2022-23.

Twenty-three of those appearances were off the bench in the Championship, though, and owing to his lack of minutes from the off, he only managed one goal and two assists in the second tier.

The 20-year-old is still yet to nail down a regular starting role in the Watford setup, but his stock has continued to grow with 10 direct goal contributions in the 2023-24 Championship, six of his own and four assists.

Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring against Osasuna on January 11, 2024© Reuters

The 6ft 1in playmaker - who is comfortable out wide, in the number 10 position or as a central striker - has scored in his last two Championship appearances versus Norwich City and Rotherham United, both of which were long-range thunderbolts.

At international level, Asprilla also made his mark on the 2023 Under-20 World Cup with two goals, and he already has one effort to show from three caps for the senior Colombia side.

According to Sport, Asprilla's performances at Vicarage Road have led to interest from Barcelona, whose technical staff are particularly attracted to the South American's versatility across the front line.

However, Barcelona apparently risk being priced out a move for Asprilla, whom Watford could demand between €40m (£34.3m) and €50m (£42.9m) for in the upcoming transfer window.

The second-tier club reportedly hope to glean a similar profit to that of Joao Pedro, whom they paid €11.5m (£9.9m) for before selling him to Brighton & Hove Albion three years later for €34.2m (£29.3m).

Barcelona's Joao Felix celebrates scoring against Atletico Madrid on December 3, 2023© Reuters

Asprilla remains under contract with Watford until the end of the 2025-26 season and has now represented the club on 73 occasions in total, scoring seven goals and posting an identical number of assists.

Barcelona may enter the market for a youthful attacking acquisition if Joao Felix's loan deal from Atletico Madrid is not made permanent, as Blaugrana staff apparently harbour concerns about the Portuguese's form.

President Joan Laporta recently affirmed that the club were still keen to keep Felix around, but their well-documented economic troubles could also hamper their chances of doing so, as they are under pressure to slash their wage bill by over £50m in the coming months.

The reigning La Liga champions are third in the table with 54 points - eight behind leaders Real Madrid - and they travel to Napoli for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.

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