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Chelsea linked to Barcelona midfielder to replace John Obi Mikel

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Spanish paper AS is running a story today linking Chelsea to a long-time Barcelona starter. The paper is reporting that the Blues have serious interest in the player, who has been struggling with manager Luis Enrique this season, and may, or may not, be happy at his boyhood club.

This is not the first time Chelsea have been linked to Busquets, as the AVB era saw plenty of rumors linking Chelsea to the player. Still, I'd think this one is unlikely for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, AS is pretty unreliable on its own, and the paper is also citing The Metro in the report. Combined, that's worth about a metric ton of fertilizer.

Secondly, the impending transfer ban at Barcelona probably eliminates potential first team player departures. Unless cleared by CAS (and that announcement is expected imminently), the Spanish club will be unable to sign a replacement for the player until January 2016. Busquets isn't as vital now as he was 3 years ago, but letting him go without a replacement would still be crazy.

Most importantly though, the AS report also indicates that Busquets is in the midst of negotiating a new contract with Barcelona. While he's got three years running on his current deal, he'd no doubt like to take advantage of the club's transfer ban and turn it into additional security and money. Unhappiness and interest in a foreign rival with money to burn probably won't hurt his negotiating position.

All told, this one might be fun to talk about, but it seems rather unlikely.