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Deulofeu, Dembele buys could keep Messi in Barca midfield

AC Milan v UC Sampdoria - Serie A

MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 05: Gerard Deulofeu of AC Milan in action during the Serie A match between AC Milan and UC Sampdoria at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on February 5, 2017 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

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Lionel Messi stay in the Barcelona midfield under new manager Ernesto Valverde, and an Everton player may be the key to a move. says that Barca would move Messi to the right midfield of a 4-3-3 and that it’s ready to exercise a $13.4 buyback clause to get Gerard Deulofeu home from Everton.

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Deulofeu, 23, left Goodison Park for a loan to AC Milan in January, and scored four times with three assists in 17 Serie A appearances.


Valverde has taken over from Luis Enrique and the former Athletic Club coach could decide to split up the club’s much-praised MSN trident. The interest in Deulofeu - and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele as an alternative - is a clear sign that Messi’s future lies deeper, setting up chances as a midfield playmaker.

Acknowledging that Deulofeu is one of their own, it’s odd that Dembele is listed as an alternative. Dembele is three years younger and helped propel Borussia Dortmund’s attack with six goals and 12 assists.

In any event, Messi in a deeper role isn’t counterproductive. He scored seven goals with three assists in four starts at center attacking mid last year, a bit better than his 47 goals in 48 matches at right wing.

Either way, the world’s best player will probably be fine.

Follow @NicholasMendola