Barcelona in talks to sign Kevin Prince Boateng

According to ESPN, Barcelona are set to complete the surprise signing of Sassuolo’s Kevin-Prince Boateng on loan until the end of the season with an option to make the move permanent for €6 million in the summer, sources have told ESPN FC.

Boateng, 31, will arrive to bolster Barca’s forward line after the sale of Munir El Haddadi to Sevilla earlier this month.

Sources have told ESPN FC that Barca expect a deal to be tied up “imminently,” with Boateng expected to arrive in Spain soon.

Munir’s exit left the La Liga leaders without a backup for Luis Suarez and coach Ernesto Valverde has been open about his desire for the club to add another body in January.

A number of options were looked at but ruled out for various reasons.

Girona’s Cristhian Stuani was deemed too expensive as a short-term option, Alvaro Morata preferred a move to Atletico Madrid where he’s been guaranteed more football and Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela was discarded at the last minute because he’s not played competitively since November.

Boateng’s arrival is even more timely given confirmation that Ousmane Dembele is set to be sidelined for the next 15 days with a sprained ankle. The France forward’s injury further reduces Valverde’s attacking options going into the two-legged Copa del Rey quarterfinal against Sevilla and league games against Girona and Valencia.

After starting his career at Hertha Berlin, in the city where he was born, Boateng, whose brother Jerome plays for Bayern Munich, has spent time in England, Italy, Spain and back in Germany.

Following spells with Tottenham, Borussia Dortmund and Portsmouth, he played some of the best football of his career during a three-year spell with Milan between 2010 and 2013.

Since then, he’s represented Schalke, Milan (again), Las Palmas, Frankfurt and Sassuolo, who he joined last summer. In 15 appearances for the Italian side this season, operating primarily as a centre-forward, he’s impressed, scoring five goals despite a period out injured.

While not an obvious January signing for the La Liga leaders, he fits all the requirements the club had drawn up. He has top-level experience, knowledge of the Spanish league, is prepared to accept a backup role and is available for relatively cheap on a short-term deal.

The signing of Boateng could also have repercussions elsewhere at Barca. Denis Suarez, despite Valverde’s reluctance to let him go, is still keen on a move to Arsenal, while the club are open to offers for Brazil forward Malcom.

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