Barcelona will allegedly pull out all the stops to sign Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Giovani Lo Celso in the January transfer window.
The Argentina international's career in North London appeared to be dead in the water under Antonio Conte, who allowed Lo Celso to spend 18 months on loan at Villarreal.
After returning to La Liga, Lo Celso helped the Yellow Submarine reach the semi-finals of the Champions League under Unai Emery, who was supposedly keen to recruit him for his Aston Villa project this summer.
With Maddison out until 2024 due to an ankle injury, though, Lo Celso made his first Premier League start of the season in last weekend's 2-1 loss to Aston Villa, scoring the opening goal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Despite the scoreline, Lo Celso's display received plenty of plaudits, and the 27-year-old is expected to keep his place in the starting lineup for Sunday's clash with Manchester City.
The midfielder's long-term future remains clouded in uncertainty, though, as his Tottenham contract expires in 2025, and a switch to Barcelona has been strongly mooted.
The La Liga champions have lost Gavi for the remainder of the season to a devastating ACL injury, and Barca head coach Xavi has confirmed that his side will target a replacement for the Spain international in January.
According to the Evening Standard, Barcelona are refusing to throw in the towel in their pursuit of Lo Celso, whom they tried and failed to capture on loan in the summer as Spurs demanded a permanent sale.
With Barcelona unable to stump up the cash to prise Lo Celso away from North London, the Blaugrana walked away from a deal, but Xavi supposedly still sees the Argentine as his number one target for a Gavi replacement.
The report adds that Tottenham will not sanction another loan exit for Lo Celso in the January window, though, and the player himself - despite being flattered by the Blaugrana's interest - is not pushing for an exit given that he will have plenty of chances to impress during Maddison's absence.
Furthermore, Barcelona would likely have to sell players in January before they can press ahead with a move for the 27-year-old, who cost Tottenham an initial £13.7m for a 2019-20 loan before his stay was made permanent for £27.4m that same summer.
Lo Celso - who previously represented Paris Saint-Germain and Real Betis - has now played for Tottenham on 89 occasions across all competitions, scoring nine goals and providing six assists.
Spurs may be even more reluctant to let Lo Celso leave due to fresh injuries to Sarr and Rodrigo Bentancur, the latter of whom is facing 10 weeks on the sidelines with an ankle issue sustained in last weekend's loss to Villa.
That defeat bumped Tottenham down to fifth in the Premier League table ahead of their clash with Man City, who can subject Spurs to four consecutive Premier League losses for the first time since 2004 on Sunday.