The La Masia star who has blossomed away from Barcelona and could head to Tottenham for just €6m this summer

The best value deal in this summer's transfer window could well be done by whichever club picks up Malaga’s emerging star Sandro Ramirez for his release clause of just €6million.

Everton currently appear best placed to sign all-round centre-forward Sandro, with Toffees manager Ronald Koeman and Director of Football Steve Walsh at La Rosaleda a week ago to see Sandro score his 14th goal of the season in a 3-0 stroll past Celta Vigo. 

Seven of those strikes have come in the last nine games, as Malaga finish the season on a high, and the Barcelona trained 21-year-old looks to have timed his purple patch just perfectly. 

A few months back it seemed more likely he would stay in La Liga, with Sevilla thought to have been well placed to take him across Andalusia, and Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Villarreal also considering a move.

More recently the Premier League’s Tottenham, Liverpool, Stoke City, Southampton and Newcastle have all also been mentioned in speculation, leading AS to brand him “the player being chased by the most clubs in Europe” ahead of the summer window opening.

Such interest should be no surprise for anyone who has watched Sandro blossom into a top quality all-round number nine this season. Technically good and physically strong, he links the play well and scores all kinds of goals, including a couple of superb direct free kicks. Even though it is his first season at the club, Malaga are a completely different team with or without their main man up front. He has found the net in 11 of their 12 La Liga wins this term. 

All of which is a bit embarrassing for Barca, who let him leave on a free transfer just 12 months ago. Sandro had spent the previous two seasons alongside fellow La Masia graduate Munir El-Haddadi as back-up to the Camp Nou’s superstar attacking ‘trident’, without ever really seriously challenging any of Lionel Messi, Neymar or Luis Suarez for a starting spot. He didn’t even score once across 13 La Liga and Champions League games in 2015/16.

Even still, Barca should have handled the situation much better. They missed a clause in his contract which allowed him to leave last summer for free after six years at the Camp Nou, with Marca recently reporting that this was a [Thiago Alcantara and Marc Bartra style] failure to read the small print on the blaugrana board’s part. 

Two days after the clause had been triggered Barca apparently called his agent Gines Carvajal to remedy the situation, but it was too late as a deal had already been done with Malaga sporting director Francesc Arnau. It got even more painful for his old club when Sandro rifled home the opening goal as Luis Enrique’s side were beaten 2-0 at La Rosaleda in early April. His celebrations that day apparently hurt former teammate Suarez, who warned the youngster to remember where he earned his crusts. But it was too late at that point.

“When you are up against the best forwards in the world [for a starting spot] it can be difficult to find a gap,” Sandro said recently. “The only thing to do was to look for an exit, and I do not regret anything. I knew where I was going [at Malaga], knew it was a nice city, I knew the fans. I am very happy here and like it a lot. It is something new for me to play so many games in the top flight. I am an ambitious person and I demand a lot of myself. I know I can give a lot more.”

The Canary Islander, under contract until 2019, definitely seems to have enjoyed his year at Malaga on and off the field. It could be tempting to spend another season alongside fellow emerging youngsters Pablo Fornals, Javi Ontiveros, Youssef En-Nesyri and Juanpi. There is also a clear connection with new coach Michel, who even said he would “give up some of my wages for Sandro to stay with us,” after another match-winning display against Valencia in late April.

But given the financial reality at the Andalusian club a move seems all but certain. His current €2m a year salary is just about possible in Malaga’s wage structure, and he can earn much more than that elsewhere, especially in England. Local reports say Atletico remain hopeful that he can be persuaded to join them in the summer, although the same story pointed out that Spurs’ owner Joe Lewis’ yacht was spotted on the Costa del Sol last weekend.

Before he and agent Carvajal decide on their next move, Sandro has a chance to do one last favour for his old club this weekend. Real Madrid visit Malaga as the La Liga title race goes down to the wire. “I hope I can score, it would be a dream day as I owe everything to Barca,” he said generously when asked how it would feel to deny the Bernabeu outfit a championship on the last day.

That quote suggests Sandro is not one for nurturing grievances or harbouring regrets. And when his future is this bright, and the opportunities this attractive, it makes sense to keep looking forward.