Marlon Santos in line for permanent Barcelona deal after 'incredible' debut

Barcelona's on-loan centre-back Marlon Santos has spoken of his delight at finally making his debut for the club amid reports in the Catalan press that he is set to join the club permanently.

Marlon, 21, has been regularly involved with the first team this season, but only made his competitive debut as a second-half substitute in Wednesday's Champions League win at Celtic.

Mundo Deportivo reports that a clause in the loan agreement between Barca and Brazilian side Fluminense, Marlon's parent club, stipulates that the Catalan club will be forced to sign him for €5.5 million if he plays five games for the Spanish champions.

However, a €3.5m down-payment that the Blaugrana made to Flu on Gerson Santos da Silva, who signed for Roma earlier this year, means they'd only have to pay €2m of the Marlon fee.

Diario Sport reports the club are convinced by Marlon's ability and will pay the money, but there are doubts about how best to manage his immediate future.

Barca B play in Spain's regionalised third-tier and the level is considered too low for Marlon's talents, while he's unlikely to displace Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Javier Mascherano or Jeremy Mathieu in the short-term.

Therefore, bringing forward their option to sign him would allow them to send him on loan in January in order to accumulate regular minutes at a higher standard.

Having been a regular on the Barcelona bench in recent weeks, Marlon eventually made his debut for the club as a 72nd-minute substitute for Gerard Pique at Celtic Park.

"Making my debut at Celtic was incredible," he said after the game. "I still can't believe it, it was a dream debut.

"Luis Enrique told me: 'Go out there and do what you have been doing with the B team.' I'll take away this shirt now, get my teammates to sign it and then hang it on the wall."

It was a happier ending to his second European away day than his first. He forgot his passport before Barca's defeat at Manchester City at the beginning of November, although was able to travel to the game on his own later.

"Now I always carry [my passport] with me," he joked, pointing to his pocket after finally making his first team bow.