Joao Mario is a natural replacement for Iniesta - Futre

The Sporting Lisbon star, who is being linked with a move to Manchester United, will soon be only man capable of succeeding the Spaniard at Barcelona, according to Paulo Futre

Sporting Lisbon midfielder Joao Mario is a natural replacement for Andres Iniesta at Barcelona, according to Paulo Futre.

The 23-year-old is reportedly on the radar of a number of top European clubs after impressing in the Portuguese top flight this season.

Goal understands that Jose Mourinho is keeping tabs on Joao Mario and could try to lure him to Manchester United this summer.

Joao Mario's dad and agent recently raised concerns over the Portugal international's wages at Sporting, leading to further speculation he could be set for a summer move away.

And Futre, a Ballon d'Or runner-up in 1987, feels Joao Mario is the only player capable of eventually replacing Barcelona star and veteran Iniesta, urging the Blaugrana to sign the Sporting ace.

"For me, Joao Mario must always play for Portugal," he told Agencia Lusa.


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"He is the most important player in the Portuguese league, with Jonas at Benfica.

"If he does not stop improving, within two years he is the only player in Europe to replace Iniesta at Barcelona.

"With the quality and game intelligence he has, he is a natural replacement for Iniesta."

Joao Mario is part of the Portugal Euro 2016 squad which is preparing to face Iceland, Austria and Hungary in Group F.