Liverpool and Arsenal are both reportedly weighing up a move for Villarreal’s Alex Baena, who continues to impress in Spain.
The forward has enjoyed a stellar start to the campaign, scoring six times in 10 outings for the Yellow Submarine, as he continues to attract admiring glances from Premier League sides. Baena showcased his quality in Spain’s second tier last term whilst playing for Girona and is now proving himself in LaLiga.
Villarreal are now looking to retain their academy graduate, who has been on their books since 2011, by tying him down to a new deal, even though his current contract runs until 2025. Currently Baena’s release clause means he would be available for just over £30m according to Spanish outlet Sport, but his current employers want to increase that figure.
Manchester City are also among those keen, with their owners City Football Group also in charge at Girona, where Baena impressed last term. Those from the blue half of Manchester are keeping tabs on the 21-year-old, whose stock is firmly on the rise, as are recruitment chiefs at Chelsea.
Villarreal have been able to retain their star players in recent seasons, despite growing interest in them. The Spanish side made the last four in the Champions League last term having won the Europa League prior to that. Centre-half Pau Torres is among their leading lights and they’ve been able to hold on to him despite fears of a bid from potential suitors over the summer.
Winger Arnaut Danjuma has also been coveted by other sides around Europe but remains in Spain. Villarreal will now be hoping to do likewise with Baena despite Premier League sides being able to outgun them financially.
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Baena, a left winger, may prove to be an asset for a majority of top English sides. City and Chelsea have a host of options on the flanks, but do have an appetite for adding young talent. Liverpool meanwhile are well stocked in those areas but equally may see the Villarreal star as a long-term project.
Arsenal, with the likes of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli in their ranks, are well stocked in the wide areas, but may also want to have several quality options, hence their interest in Baena. The Spanish market has proven to be an effective source of players over the years. Baena has been capped throughout the Spanish age grades, including appearing for their U21s.