Colombian centre back Yerry Mina is one of football’s most coveted young talents.
His new contract with Palmeiras includes an option for Barcelona to buy the defender for as little as €9m, should they wish this summer.
Despite the possibility of imminent move to one of football’s giants, Mina (himself a towering 6ft 5in) isn’t in any immediate rush to leave his adopted home in Brazil, although he is aware that a move to Europe sooner rather than later seems all but inevitable.
Speaking to Sport, the 22-year-old laid out his objectives for the new year.
“[I want] to be well, mentally 100 per cent and to do things well so that Palmeiras can be champions. And afterwards, I will tackle moving to Europe. Everything in time” Mina said.
“I want to do things well. I am happy at Palmeiras, a club with which I identify a lot. When I go to Europe I want to be 100 per cent so I can have the best adaptation period possible.”
Referencing Barcelona specifically, he said: “If with the help of God this opportunity comes I will try and take it and I will go there to break that. For now I’m at Palmeiras, where I feel happy and I will keep making my name in the history of the club.”
Mina, who joined Palmeiras from Sante Fe in his native Colombia last year, also claims his style of play is conducive to that of Barcelona’s feted philosophy.
Palmeiras and Colombia defender Yerry Mina (22) has rejected a move to Manchester City because he wants to join Barcelona. [Mundo Deportivo] pic.twitter.com/CjbxMauXLA
— City Watch (@City_Watch) 22. siječnja 2017.
“I always want to play out from the back. And Barcelona start with Ter Stegen. When the ball gets to Messi, Suarez and Neymar it’s always touched. I like to see a team that isn’t tired of touching it 30 or 40 times.
“I don’t like teams that don’t want the ball. I always like touching it, playing as a playmaker on the first line. If I can reach the opposition box, I will do it.”
Mina cites his personal influences in the game as Barcelona’s Gerard Pique and former Nou Camp star Yaya Toure, as well as Thiago Silva and Sergio Ramos, and recalls the time he came up against one part of the Blaugrana’s trident on international duty.
The centre back marked Luis Suarez during his country’s World Cup qualifier against Uruguay in October of 2016, but didn’t give his potential future teammate any special treatment.
“It was a difficult duel. Everyone knows the quality this guy has. We fought, scrapped and said ugly things but this is part of football. It was me or him.
“More than that there were other things. We were fighting and scrapping for our national team”