Barcelona are closing in on Arsenal midfielder Alex Song, according to reports in the Catalan press on Wednesday morning.
Daily papers Sport and Mundo Deportivo claim that Barcelona's sports vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu and director of football Raul Sanllehi were in London on Tuesday to negotiate the deal, and it could be finalised within hours.
The reports claim Arsenal have already turned down an initial €15 million bid from the Catalans and are holding out for over €20 million, but a deal should be agreed for €18 - €19 million. The idea of a Barca player such as Ibrahim Afellay or Cristian Tello moving to the Emirates on loan in part-exchange has been discounted.
While Barcelona have officially remained silent on the transfer, Javier Clemente, who was Song's international manager with Cameroon from 2011 to 2012, told the Catalan media that the player would fit in well at the Camp Nou.
"(Song) is a fantastic player," Clemente said. "Physically he is very strong, dynamic, he works very hard and is very good technically. He is at the Barca level.
"He is a player with some things from (Seydou) Keita and some from (Yaya) Toure. For me he has more imagination in attack."
"He is a happy character who dances and sings and is a very good presence in the dressing room. If you know how to manage him, he gives you no problems, like Samuel (Eto'o)"
Song's capture would end Barcelona's summer-long search for a player who can play in both central defence and midfield, as identified by new coach Tito Vilanova in his first press conference last month. Athletic Bilbao's Javi Martinez was reportedly Vilanova's first choice, but Barca were not prepared to meet the €40 million release clause in the Basque player's contract.