Barcelona are close to finalising a deal to sign Toulouse’s highly rated centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo, sources have told ESPN FC.
Todibo, 19, has not played for Toulouse since November, when negotiations over a new contract broke down. His terms expire in the summer and since the beginning of January he has been free to hold talks with other clubs.
Manchester City and Juventus had also been linked with the French defender, but Barca sporting director Eric Abidal, a former France international, has played a big part in convincing him to make the switch to Camp Nou.
A pre-contract agreement has been reached with the player for him to join in the summer but Barca plan to hold talks with Toulouse with regards to doing a deal this month.
If they can agree on an adequate compensation package with the Ligue 1 club, Todibo will join Barca permanently before heading out on loan for six months, preferably in Spain. It’s seen as a better option than leaving him where he is, where he’s been banished from first-team duty.
Todibo will then have a full preseason with Barcelona’s first team before a decision is made regarding whether he remains with the club next season or heads out on loan.
That may depend on if Barca manage to sign another of their centre-back targets, Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt. They will also have to decide whether they take up an option to sign Valencia’s Jeison Murillo — who joined on a six-month loan recently — permanently for €25 million in the summer.
Murillo arrived as short-term cover for injured duo Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen, while moves for Todibo and De Ligt are part of long-term succession planning for life without Gerard Pique, who turns 32 next month, and Vermaelen, who is set to leave in June when his deal expires.
Todibo had never played in France’s top flight before this season but quickly impressed after being handed his full debut against Bordeaux last August.
However, after just 10 appearances, he was sent back to the reserve team due to the impasse over his contract situation.