CARL RUSHWORTH has reportedly emerged as a surprise Barcelona target after a standout loan spell at Walsall.
The Brighton stopper, 20, is said to have impressed Nou Camp scouts with other European sides rumoured to be keen.
The Halifax-born keeper has kept two clean sheets in nine games across all competitions for the Saddlers.
And the 6ft 3in stopper saved his fourth spot-kick this term during Walsall’s 2-1 loss to Newport in League Two.
Rushworth, who began his career in Huddersfield’s youth side at the age of 16, is yet to make his senior debut for Albion, who play Crystal Palace next.
The player, who was called up to England’s Under-20 squad in November last year, has a contract with Brighton that runs until 2023.
With Rushworth’s performances earning him plaudits, the Mirror reports that scouts from Barcelona and other unnamed sides have been watching the player in action.
And it is thought officials from the Catalan giants, who have come under pressure in Spain’s top-flight, have been to watch Rushworth twice at the Saddlers.
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Nou Camp scouts are also reported to have watched the player in action in the seventh tier during his loan spell at Worthing from 2019-20.
The England youngster, who moved to Brighton in January 2019, made six Premier League South appearances for their U18s during the 2018-19 season.
And the keeper helped his team finish fifth in their division before joining the Seagulls’ U23s ahead of the 2019-20 Prem League 2 season.
However the player ended up joining Worthing on a one-term loan in August making 30 appearances for the side.
It’s always a joy when you make a save and get people, players and fans, congratulating you.
Last term the player, who has talked of his love of saving penalties, kept four clean sheets in 21 appearances.
He is said to be thriving under the tutelage of Walsall goalkeeping coach Maik Taylor.
Taylor, 50, enjoyed spells as a stopper at Barnet, Southampton, Fulham and Birmingham City making 613 career appearances and winning 88 international caps for Northern Ireland.
Rushworth said: “Making saves that maybe you don’t expect to make, those moments are massive for me.
“I love being in those moments. It’s always a joy when you make a save and get people, players and fans, congratulating you.
“It’s a nice feeling and one that you’ll never really forget.
“I’m happy with my shot-stopping, although my distribution could be better.
“I just want to be consistent in my performances.”
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