By Spain correspondent Miguel de Souza
Barcelona are plotting a shock move for Newcastle attacker Ayoze Perez, according to a report.
The Mirror claim the Spanish giants have identified the Spanish forward as a potential understudy to their fabled front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
It is said that Barcelona chiefs have already contacted their counterparts at Newcastle to enquire about the possibility of a summer transfer.
Perez was signed from Tenerife for £1.5million in 2014 and has subsequently netted 13 Premier League goals for the Magpies, six of which have come in 33 appearances this season.
Since Rafael Benitez took the reigns at St James’ Park, the 22-year-old has had a mixed time and has not always been a regular starter.
Perez, who plays in any of three attacking midfield slots behind the centre-forward, was overlooked in favour of Georginio Wijnaldum for last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
In Newcastle’s previous encounter, the 2-2- draw against Liverpool at Anfield, he started the match but was hauled off at half-time when his side were 2-0 down.
Perez would be likely to get even less game time at Barcelona, where Suarez, Messi and Neymar start the majority of the matches as they continue to break records for their goalscoring productivity.
Current Barca reserve forwards Sandro and Munir El Haddadi have had only bit-part roles at Camp Nou and will reportedly depart this summer.
Much will depend upon whether Newcastle avoid relegation from the top flight and the stance of the Mike Ashley-led board, who may be tempted to cash in if Barcelona table a bid which represents a significant profit.
In other Newcastle news, club legend Alan Shearer gives his verdict on the team’s survival bid.