Aston Villa’s interest in Villarreal midfielder Alex Baena is seen as a potential problem for Barcelona, who are also keen on the player.

AS cover the player today after he made his debut for the Spanish national team, bagging a goal in the 6-0 win over Cyprus last month.

That was an ‘idyllic’ debut for the player, who has been on the rise for the best part of a year and has spent the summer being linked with a move from Villarreal.

Barcelona were one of the sides who had him on their agenda, with Mateu Alemany and Joan Laporta considering him a player who has the Barcelona DNA and trying to find a way to sign him as a result.

The club’s financial difficulties made that impossible, though, with Villarreal refusing to consider any kind of loan deal with a purchase option.

Alemany’s departure has not changed Barcelona’s intentions with the player and his good start to the season, with a goal and two assists, means he remains a target.

There is now more competition for him, though, with Aston Villa interested in him last summer and maintaining that interest still.

They are one of several Premier League sides who have him ‘monitored’ and it cannot be ruled out that one of them will try to sign him in the January transfer window.

Any deal is likely to cost around €40m, with the player having a €60m release clause in his current contract but Villarreal willing to negotiate below that price. Whether Aston Villa would pay such a figure isn’t clear, but they continue to back Unai Emery and Baena is a player he knows well.

It’s a situation to keep an eye on, and Villa’s potential competition for his signature is a problem for Barcelona, who simply don’t have the finances to compete.