Barcelona could reportedly sell midfield duo Ivan Rakitic and Arda Turan in a bid to raise funds to help pay for a new contract for star forward Lionel Messi. Rakitic is said to be interesting Barca‘s La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid along with Premier League side Manchester City, while China is being tipped as a possible destination for Turan.

A report from Alonso Castilla of Spanish publication El Confidencial (h/t the Sun‘s Sam Street) detailed how Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu is anxious to free up cash to offer Messi, whose contract runs out in 2018, a bumper new deal: “An operation has taken shape in recent moments to cut millions of euros [from Barca’s budget] and allow the club to fund the new deal which they will present to their star [Messi].”

Rakitic and Turan could help raise those fees since there’s interest in both. Castilla reported how former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, now in charge at City, wants Rakitic to help offset the loss of injured playmaker Ilkay Gundogan.

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Guardiola reportedly wants Rakitic to replace Gundogan.

Rakitic is said to be open to the move: “It is known that the footballer will not have any problem changing his shirt if there is extra money to be earned.”

City have the money to put together an offer lucrative enough to tempt Barca into a sale and Rakitic into switching clubs. However, Barcelona may want to think twice before ditching Croatian pass-master Rakitic.

The 28-year-old has been a key figure for the Camp Nou club since joining in 2014, helping the Blaugrana win a treble in his first season. At his best, Rakitic is a classy box-to-box runner who enables quick transitions between defence and attack.

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