You would think the failed 12-month experiment with Zlatan Ibrahimovic six years ago might have cured Barcelona of the urge to formulate a Plan B, but the Spanish giants are rumoured to be broadening their horizons once again.
Rumours of sensible Barca bids for the likes of Atletico Madrid’s Luciano Vietto, Valencia’s Paco Alcacer and even Newcastle’s Ayoze Perez have filled up gossip columns this summer, with little in the Camp Nou forward ranks beyond world-class trio Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.
However, few football watchers were expecting Luis Enrique’s transfer periscope to locate West Brom striker Salomon Rondon.
The Venezuela international has been a key Baggies weapon since signing for £12m from Zenit Saint Petersburg last summer, with five of his ten all-competition efforts last term coming in 1-0 wins for Tony Pulis’ side.
He was up to his old tricks again on the first day of the new Premier League term, glancing home a header from James McClean’s free-kick to ensure a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Palace.
Therein lies the mystery of Rondon’s Los Blaugrana link, as five of the 26-year-old’s ten Premier League goals so far have bounced off his cranium, which is two more than from any other body part.
Anyone who has watched this Barca side over the last half-decade or so will be aware that the finest purveyors of tiki-taka around would rather take up rugby than put in a cross, with unwanted corners practically always played short rather than launched into the box.
West Brom won’t want to lose him either, with Pulis reportedly moving heaven and earth to land pacey Sporting Lisbon hotshot Islam Slimani, seemingly an ideal foil for Rondon, as the Black Country outfit target a 5/1 Premier League top-ten finish.
They’d likely expect twice the £12m shelled out to Zenit a year ago for Rondon, with three years left on his contract and Sporting rumoured to be demanding more than £20m for Slimani, making the burly striker an expensive Barca Plan B.