Barcelona still need to strengthen squad, Xavi says after disappointing draw to start LaLiga

Xavi Hernandez says Barcelona still need to strengthen their squad after opening the season with a disappointing goalless draw against Rayo Vallecano at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

Barca made their debuts in four of their five summer signings against Rayo, with Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Andreas Christensen all in the starting XI. Franck Kessie came into play in the second half.

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All four were registered with LaLiga on Friday after the club sold 24.5% of Barca Studios to take the total from this summer’s asset sale to over €700m.

Jules Kounde hasn’t been registered yet and won’t until Barca create more salary space, but the Blaugrana are targeting more signings, with Marcos Alonso, Bernardo Silva and possibly another right-back being sought.

“I have already said that we must continue to strengthen and that we have until August 31 [when the transfer window closes]’ Xavi said in his post-match press conference.

“But I don’t want to use that as an excuse [for the Rayo result]. I understand the disappointment, the expectations are really high. We have to analyze the game, improve and keep believing in the game model.

“Rayo defended well. It was more difficult for us to create [chances] as usual. It’s a shame because we wanted to show the fans that we’re on the right track. It’s disappointing, but we ask for patience.”

Barca now work according to LaLiga rules with a 1:1 ratio when it comes to signing players. That means they can now spend whatever they save or earn on fees or pay cuts.

Therefore, in order to bring in more corpses, other players still have to go first. Midfielder Frenkie de Jong is wanted by Manchester United and Chelsea but sources have told ESPN that he is still interested in staying at Barca.

The Dutch midfielder impressed as a second-half substitute against Rayo and Xavi says he will play a key role if he stays but left the door open for a transfer.

“His role isn’t that of a substitute, he’s an important player, I’ve said that many times,” stressed Xavi.

“He came on very well today – like last week. I don’t know what will happen in the transfer market but if he stays he will be very important for us. Especially with his attitude and his performances.” “

Barca had over 20 shots against Rayo but the visitors had their moments too, with home goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen making some key saves.

Pedri, Sergio Busquets, who was sent off late for a second booking, Raphinha, Ousmane Dembele and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all had chances for Barca, who also ruled two goals offside.

One of those was scored by Lewandowski, a €45m Bayern Munich signing who failed to make his official Barcelona debut with a goal in front of a crowd of over 80,000.

“I’m happy because he worked for the team, kept the pressure high and his control was very good when he was the solution in the build-up,” said Xavi of the Polish striker’s performance.

“But we needed more effectiveness today, that was the main problem, but I’m really happy to have him in the squad, he helps the team.

“Today we’re upset, Robert and everyone else, because the result isn’t good, but we have to keep going, believe the process. It’s a matter of time before he scores.”

https://www.espn.com/soccer/barcelona-espbarcelona/story/4720971/barcelona-still-need-to-strengthen-squadxavi-says-after-disappointing-draw-to-start-laliga Barcelona still need to strengthen squad, Xavi says after disappointing draw to start LaLiga

Emma Bowman

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