Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal stormed out of Tuesday’s training session after learning he would not start against Real Madrid on Wednesday, sources have told ESPN.
Vidal, 32, usually stays on after training for shooting practice with a number of other first-team players but left early when coach Ernesto Valverde revealed he would on the bench in the Clasico.
Several players tried to comfort Vidal but the Chilean international, who the club fear could now push for a January move away from Camp Nou, could not be calmed down.
Inter Milan, coached by Antonio Conte, who worked with Vidal previously at Juventus, are long-time admirers of the former Bayern Munich man.
They held informal talks with Barca last week before the Champions League game between the two sides but the Spanish champions made their position clear: unless they receive an offer they can’t say no to, Vidal will not leave midseason.
There has been speculation that Inter could tempt Barca by offering them first refusal or a reduced price on striker Lautaro Martinez or midfielder Stefano Sensi, whose loan they are expected to make permanent in the summer for €25 million.
However, sources explained to ESPN that Barca would only entertain a cash offer for Vidal, whose contract runs until 2021. The club need to bring in €124m before the end of June to balance the books.
The situation could change slightly, though, if Vidal pushes for a move. The club are aware of comments he made in Chile last month, when he said if he wasn’t playing and didn’t feel important he would have to move on.
Since then, he’s started just once — a meaningless match against Inter in the Champions League — and has seen Ivan Rakitic, who had previously made just one start in 17 games, return to the team ahead of him.
In total, he has made 17 appearances this season, scoring four goals, but 12 of those outings have been as a substitute.
Vidal joined Barca from Bayern for just under €20m in the summer of 2017. He has made 70 appearances for the club.