Barcelona have reportedly reignited their interest in Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Zubimendi.
The 24-year-old was strongly linked with a summer move to the Catalan giants, who were in the market to find a replacement for Sergio Busquets following his move to Inter Miami.
It is understood that Barcelona are still looking for a high-profile defensive midfielder to fill the void left behind by club legend Busquets, with Romeu seemingly acting as a stop-gap until a replacement is found.
According to Sport, Barcelona will look to step up their interest in Zubimendi in the summer of 2024 and believe that it is 'essential' to lure him to Camp Nou ahead of next season.
The report adds that Xavi remains a huge admirer of the Spaniard, who possesses a €60m (£52.4m) release clause in his Real Sociedad contract which is non-negotiable according to club president Jokin Aperribay.
Sociedad are said to be aware of interest in Zubimendi and have begun the process of combing the market for a replacement in case they part ways with their star midfielder.
A recent report claims that Bayern have joined the race for Zubimendi as Thomas Tuchel continues to search for a new defensive midfielder after missing out on the summer addition of Fulham's Joao Palhinha, who remains a target for the Bundesliga giants.
Both Arsenal and Man United have also been tipped to bolster their midfield options in the New Year, with the former expected to step up their interest in a number of targets, according to ex-Gunners midfielder Gilberto Silva.
Zubimendi has spent his entire senior career with Real Sociedad and has made a total of 161 appearances across all competitions since making his debut in 2016.
The four-cap Spain international, who is under contract at the Reale Arena until June 2027, has established himself as a first-team regular under manager Imanol Alguacil, playing the full 90 minutes in 15 matches across La Liga and the Champions League so far this season.