BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona continued its low-budget remodeling by recalling Brazilian defender Emerson Royal from loan on Wednesday in the club’s third new arrival in as many days.
Barcelona said it exercised a clause in Emerson’s loan deal that had allowed him to play for Spanish league rival Real Betis for the past two-and-a-half years.
Barcelona signed Emerson from Brazilian club Atlético Mineiro in January 2019 for 12 million euros ($14.6 million) but immediately loaned him to Betis.
The 22-year-old right back has played as a regular starter for Betis, becoming its most-used player while providing 10 assists last season. He helped Manuel Pellegrini’s team finish sixth in the league and earn a Europa League berth.
Emerson has three years remaining on his Barcelona contract. He will likely compete with American Sergiño Dest and veteran Sergi Roberto for playing time.
The signing of Emerson comes after Barcelona announced the acquisitions of former Manchester City players Sergio Agüero and Eric García on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Both arrived without a transfer fee after finishing their contracts
New club president Joan Laporta is seeking to add talent to a squad that won the Copa del Rey this season but finished the Spanish league in third place and was knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16.
Laporta’s main goal is to convince Lionel Messi that he can give him a winning team with the Argentina star’s contract expiring at the end of this month.
Adding to the squad without further straining its hard-hit finances would be a bonus. Barcelona is 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in debt, making any big signings difficult.
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