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Napoli launching effort to sign wantaway Barcelona defender

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Marc Bartra might be at the top of Napoli's priority list to be the second central defender the club signs.

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We know that Napoli are working on signing Davide Astori, and we also know that all indications at the moment are that he's not the only central defender that the club want to sign. Apparently recognizing that there's a lot of need on the back line, Napoli are looking to bring in a pair of center backs, and given some of the players they're being connected to, Astori will be the lesser of them.

While the rumor mill has mostly been spinning away at Torino's Nikola Maksimovic or Roma's Alessio Romagnoli, the most fascinating rumor yet to come out is for a player outside of Italy: Marc Bartra of Barcelona.

You may remember that name from a month ago, when we wrote about Napoli needing to go after the Spaniard while his release clause was at a lower point. Sadly, that deadline has passed, but there's good news: supposedly Barcelona are potentially willing to sell Bartra, and not for much more than that lowered release clause would have let a team get him for.

Bartra is a high-upside defender who hasn't gotten a ton of playing time at the Camp Nou,and the 24 year old wants a new adventure so he can play up to the level that he knows he can. Apparently Napoli's interest in him is mutual, and Bartra sees Napoli as a potential route to cracking the Spain squad in next summer's European Championships. It'd be really hard to get upset by this signing if it happens, and this will bear close monitoring for developments.

There is one potential holdup: Barcelona are voting in a new president on Saturday -- the votes are being tallied as this is being written -- and Napoli are waiting to see if the man in charge is incumbent Josep Maria Bartomeu or challenger and two-time former Barca president Joan Laporta. Whether they feel they have a better chance with one or the other or just feel that it'd be respectful to wait until things are settled before launching a bid is unsure, but either way, don't expect any hard news on this one for at least a couple of days.