Spanish international Eric Garcia has returned to Barcelona on a free transfer following his release from Manchester City – and the move may help out City’s bitter rivals Manchester United.
The 20-year-old defender has penned a five-year deal in Catalonia with a reported £345million (€400m) release clause.
Despite Pep Guardiola’s attempts to keep Garcia at the Etihad Stadium at the end of the 2020/21 campaign, his mind has been made up since the start of last season.
Garcia told Guardiola of his intention to rejoin Barcelona, where he spent nine years at their famed La Masia academy between 2008 and 2017 before joining City as a raw 17-year-old.
However, despite the lack of supporter’s objections to Garcia’s departure, his move may have inadvertently handed arch rivals Manchester United a major transfer boost.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is on the hunt for defensive reinforcements ahead of the 2021/22 season with Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde rumoured to be a key target for the Norwegian.
La Liga giants Barcelona have also been trailing the French Under-21 international ahead of a possible summer bid but the arrival of Garcia has now reduced their need for a new central defender.
Both Kounde and Garcia have been touted as possible long-term replacements for Gerard Pique for Ronald Koeman’s side but he is set to stay on for at least another season.
With Pique under contract until 2024, alongside Garcia, Clement Lenglet, Oscar Mingueza and Samuel Umtiti, Koeman is well stocked at the back.
That could mean Solskjaer has a largely unopposed run at Kounde with City’s own interest in him appearing to reduce following the emergence of Ruben Dias and John Stones’ partnership.