London: Barcelona have stepped up their search for a new centre-back by making a €25 million bid for Chelsea defender David Luiz.
Barca set their sights on Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva earlier this summer as a long-term replacement for captain Carles Puyol, but have been frustrated in their attempts to sign the Brazil captain and also missed out on his international team-mate Marquinhos, who joined PSG from Roma in July for €35m.
Sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta then turned his attentions to another Brazilian as Barca looked set to bid for Luiz late last month, but all transfer plans were placed on hold as coach Tito Vilanova departed to continue his cancer treatment and new man Gerardo Martino was installed at Camp Nou.
Martino has said he is happy with Barca`s current squad, but Puyol is still several weeks away from full fitness and has been plagued by knee problems over the last two years.
Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho has claimed that Luiz - who is currently sidelined with a hamstring problem - is not for sale, but Barca have opened the bidding for the Brazilian at €25m and sent club representative Raul Sanllehi to London in order to negotiate a deal.
Barca have also dispatched a delegate to Liverpool for talks over the possible signing of defender Daniel Agger and, according to the Danish press, the Blaugrana are ready to offer €20m for the 28-year-old centre-back.