Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique have all been left out of Barcelona's trip to Ibiza in the Copa del Rey.

The trio are being rested for the round-of-32 clash against the third-tier side.

Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele remain unavailable due to injury, although the former has begun the next stage of his treatment process in Catalonia as he recovers from meniscus damage.

Quique Setien has called up youngsters Carles Perez, Riqui Puig, Abel Ruiz and Chumi to the 18-man squad, alongside rising star Ansu Fati.

Barca face a potentially difficult LaLiga trip to Valencia just three days after the Ibiza clash.

Quique Setien has confirmed Barcelona are considering signing another striker to ease the loss of Luis Suarez following the Uruguayan's knee surgery.

Suarez, 32, was said to have been carrying a knee injury for a while before Barca revealed he was set for surgery on January 11.

Reports suggested that Barca only expected him to be missing for a few weeks, but a club statement the following day confirmed their worst fears, with Suarez likely to miss most of the season.

Unsurprisingly Barca have been strongly linked with several strikers since, with Osasuna's Chimy Avila, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal and RB Leipzig star Timo Werner all mentioned as potential targets.

And while Setien refused to comment on specific names, he did confirm Barca are contemplating making a move.

"It is true that we are considering the signing of a number nine. We still have to develop things a little more," the head coach said ahead of the Copa del Rey trip to Ibiza.

"It's not an issue that worries me too much, I am more concerned about the games. It's an issue that I will have to deal with sports management about and we will see which is the most convenient.

"It's a matter [talk of specific players] I can't respond to you about, I won't either. I spoke a lot with the sports management about it, but we haven't decided on anything.

"It's all internal, so its preferable you don't ask me, as I won't say anything more."

The return of Ousmane Dembele could alleviate some of the burden on the remaining Barca attackers without Suarez, as the Frenchman is back in training after almost two months out with a thigh injury.

Dembele's Barca career has been somewhat underwhelming so far, though Setien still has high hopes for him.

"He's undoubtedly going to be very important," Setien said. "He's an extraordinary player who unfortunately hasn't had much consistency.

"Of course, he'll be very important, we hope he'll help us a lot."

Quique Setien has confirmed Barcelona are considering signing another striker to ease the loss of Luis Suarez following the Uruguayan's knee surgery.

Suarez, 32, was said to have been carrying a knee injury for a while before Barca revealed he was set for surgery on January 11.

Reports suggested that Barca only expected him to be missing for a few weeks, but a club statement the following day confirmed their worst fears, with Suarez likely to miss most of the season.

Unsurprisingly Barca have been strongly linked with several strikers since, with Osasuna's Chimy Avila, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal and RB Leipzig star Timo Werner all mentioned as potential targets.

And while Setien refused to comment on specific names, he did confirm Barca are contemplating making a move.

"It is true that we are considering the signing of a number nine. We still have to develop things a little more," the head coach said ahead of the Copa del Rey trip to Ibiza.

"It's not an issue that worries me too much, I am more concerned about the games. It's an issue that I will have to deal with sports management about and we will see which is the most convenient.

"It's a matter [talk of specific players] I can't respond to you about, I won't either. I spoke a lot with the sports management about it, but we haven't decided on anything.

"It's all internal, so its preferable you don't ask me, as I won't say anything more."

The return of Ousmane Dembele could alleviate some of the burden on the remaining Barca attackers without Suarez, as the Frenchman is back in training after almost two months out with a thigh injury.

Dembele's Barca career has been somewhat underwhelming so far, though Setien still has high hopes for him.

"He's undoubtedly going to be very important," Setien said. "He's an extraordinary player who unfortunately hasn't had much consistency.

"Of course, he'll be very important, we hope he'll help us a lot."

Inter are reportedly "confident" of finally sealing a deal for Christian Eriksen.

The Serie A title hopefuls are said to be preparing an improved offer as they seek to tempt Tottenham into selling the midfielder this month.

On Monday, Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio confirmed an official bid had been lodged with the London club.

 

TOP STORY – INTER BACK IN FOR ERIKSEN

The chase for wantaway midfielder Eriksen could come to an end when Inter increase their proposal to €15million (£12.8m) plus add-ons.

The Guardian suggests Tottenham will soon have another offer to contemplate after rejecting the Nerazzurri's previous approach, which involved an initial €10m (£8.5m) sum.

Eriksen, also linked with Manchester United, is due to become a free agent at the end of the season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Ashley Young has arrived, Eriksen could be close and Inter's raid on English football is not finished there. Victor Moses has been pictured in Milan and Sky Sport Italia claims the Chelsea wide man will undergo a medical on Tuesday.

- Eriksen's future is not Tottenham's only cause for concern. According to the Daily Mail, Danny Rose and manager Jose Mourinho were involved in a "heated exchange" on Sunday after the left-back took issue with his omission from the squad that draw 0-0 at Watford.

- Chelsea have made enquiries about Edinson Cavani and are ready to rival Atletico Madrid for the Paris Saint-Germain striker's signature, reports the Telegraph.

- LaLiga champions Barcelona admire Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang more than the other centre-forwards on their shortlist of potential signings, says Mundo Deportivo.

- Bayern Munich are hunting a new right-back and have identified Real Madrid defender Alvaro Odriozola as a strong candidate to fill the problem position, reports Sky Sport Germany.

Barcelona have signed Rey Manaj from Albacete for an initial €700,000, with the former Inter striker agreeing a contract until June 2023.

The fee could rise by €2million in performance-based bonuses over the next three and a half years, with 22-year-old Manaj set to line-up for Barca B in the third tier.

After starting his senior career with Cremonese, the Albania international – who has a €50m release clause in his Barca contract – moved to Inter and made six appearances for the club during a stint that included loans to Pescara, Pisa and Granada.

Manaj joined Albacete in July 2018 on loan with an obligation to buy. He scored nine goals in 39 league appearances for the Segunda Division side.

New head coach Quique Setien was pleased with Barcelona's 1-0 victory over Granada in his first game in charge but wants to see his side be more clinical in front of goal.

Lionel Messi's 76th-minute finish following an outstanding team move secured three points at Camp Nou on Sunday for Setien, who replaced Ernesto Valverde last Monday.

Barca had 82.6 per cent of possession but struggled to break down Granada prior to Messi's intervention, prompting hopes from the incoming coach there will be improvement in the final third.

"I think it was a 'good' [performance]," Setien said. "Maybe we lacked a bit of conviction in the first half. Granada defended very well, and it wasn't easy.

"Furthermore, it was an unpleasant day, with wind, a dry pitch, and this stopped the circulation [of the ball].

"I'm happy because we only conceded one shot in the first half and the shot that hit the post in the second half came from our loss [of possession].

"I think we did a lot of things well and I hope that little by little we pick up fluency and improve in front of goal."

Setien does not see a great deal of work for him to do in order to turn Valverde's side into his own, however.

"I have seen many things from Barca that I want today," he said. "There are many things that this team has done well and will continue to do.

"There are not so many things to change - perhaps just the rigour and discipline of maintaining the intensity for 90 minutes in order to not lose matches that you have won.

"Today did not bring much in front of goal, but many things we have done well."

The new boss is happy to be able to rely on Messi, too, adding: "It's what he's done his whole life. That's the reality.

"There are matches like these that are deadlocked, without conviction and without inspiration, and he always appears in a great move in the end.

"[It was] a great backheel by Arturo [Vidal to set Messi up]. This move came in the first half a couple of times and it didn't come off, but when it falls to Messi, there's a high percentage it will go in."

Sergio Busquets refused to compare Barcelona under Ernesto Valverde and Quique Setien after the Catalans made a winning start to life under their new head coach.

Barca returned to the top of LaLiga with a 1-0 win over a dogged Granada at Camp Nou on Sunday.

The home side enjoyed nearly 83 per cent of the possession but could not break down their visitors until Lionel Messi struck 76 minutes in after German Sanchez had been sent off.

Setien's variation of a 3-4-3 saw Barca monopolise the ball and push high up the pitch, a style more in keeping with the methods of Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola than Valverde, who was sacked this month after losing to Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana.

Busquets was pleased with their display but would not enter into comparisons between the methods of Setien and Valverde, who eventually lost the faith of the fans and the board due to his more cautious approach.

"We were a solid team. We had control of the ball. They created little against us," he told Movistar.

"It's true that we struggled when they dropped deep but, in general terms, the team played a good game.

"It's not about comparing. Every coach has his style and his way of seeing football. You'll see what Setien asks us to do. We're not going to reveal it.

"We're delighted with what Ernesto did and we're delighted with Setien."

Setien also earned a cheer from the Camp Nou crowd for bringing on Masia graduate Riqui Puig, who found chances hard to come by under Valverde.

The 20-year-old won back possession on the edge of the Granada box in the build-up to the goal, and Busquets hopes it is just the start for the midfielder.

"He has a lot of things to mature, but it looks like he can be here [to boost the team]," Busquets added.

Barca are level with Real Madrid on 43 points at the top of the table after 20 games, with Atletico Madrid and Sevilla eight points adrift.

Barcelona were made to work by 10-man Granada at Camp Nou on Sunday in Quique Setien's first game in charge before Lionel Messi secured a 1-0 win.

The champions needed three points to reclaim top spot in LaLiga from Real Madrid but were mostly blunted by a disciplined defensive display in windy conditions in Catalonia.

Setien set his side up in a 3-4-3 variation reminiscent of Pep Guardiola's old formation but, despite enjoying close to 82 per cent of the possession, clear-cut chances were hard to come by.

Barca were given an advantage when German Sanchez was sent off and Messi eventually made the breakthrough with 14 minutes of normal time left as the attack finally clicked into gear.

Setien's much-discussed adherence to the Johan Cruyff school was clear in a first half in which Barcelona made more than 500 passes, but a shot from Messi that rippled the side-netting was the closest they came to a goal.

Messi saw a free-kick deflected over the crossbar before Granada gave Barca a real scare, Yan Eteki's low strike beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen only to bounce back off the inside of the post and away to safety.

Granada's game plan was working well until German was shown a second yellow card 69 minutes in for a trip on Messi, before Setien earned a cheer from the home fans by introducing Riqui Puig for Ivan Rakitic.

The 20-year-old made a telling impact, winning back possession on the edge of the box before Messi found Antoine Griezmann, he flicked the ball to Arturo Vidal and the Chilean's backheel was swept home by the captain.

 

What does it mean? Setien style already on view

This was a Barca performance to make the fans smile.

With Jordi Alba playing almost entirely as a left-winger, the midfield pushed high into Granada territory and centre-forward Griezmann running back to regain the ball in his own half, most in the stands will have considered this a return to a style more in keeping with Barca's heritage.

There needs to be more cutting edge to go with the possession, but there were few signs of the more cautious approach that saw Ernesto Valverde lose the faith of the fans and, eventually, the board.

Martinez deserves plaudits

This game was always going to be about Setien's set-up, but credit must go to Diego Martinez for making Granada such obstinate opposition.

They kept Barca away from Rui Silva's goal very effectively for 70 minutes and were inches from snatching the lead through Eteki before Messi's strike.

German inefficiency costs Granada

There was no need for German to trip Messi for the foul that earned him a second yellow card, the forward some 35 yards from goal and not likely to make inroads with this particular run. Momentum swung Barca's way at this point.

What's next?

Barca head to Ibiza in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday before facing Valencia at Mestalla next Saturday. Granada's cup game sees them head to Badalona, with Sevilla their next league opponents.

Ansu Fati is set for only his fourth LaLiga start after being given the nod to line up against Granada in new coach Quique Setien's first match in charge.

Setien was appointed on Monday following the sacking of Ernesto Valverde, though he has resisted any urge to make wholesale changes.

Barca's last outing saw them lose 3-2 to Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana semi-final, with Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez leading the line.

But since then Suarez has been ruled out for most of the season after having knee surgery, resulting in a rethink in attack.

The one to benefit from Suarez's absence is 17-year-old Fati, who broke into the first-team squad at the start of the season.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen returns in goal following a spell out with a knee injury, while the much-maligned Ivan Rakitic takes the place of the suspended Frenkie de Jong in midfield.

Setien's arrival was seen as a positive for the club's promising youngsters, with the likes of Riqui Puig – who hardly had a look-in under Valverde – brought to train with the senior side straight away.

Puig, 20, is among the substitutes at Camp Nou, as is fellow La Masia product Carles Perez.

Riqui Puig was named in Quique Setien's squad for his first Barcelona game as coach against Granada on Sunday.

Ernesto Valverde drew criticism for his refusal to give the La Masia product any first-team action this season, with the 20-year-old midfielder playing solely for Barca B in the third tier.

However, the arrival of Setien as Valverde's replacement on Monday has seen Puig immediately moved into the first team for Granada's visit to Camp Nou.

While Setien has a reputation for trusting youth from his stints at Las Palmas and Real Betis, his midfield options were restricted by a suspension for Frenkie de Jong and Arthur having spent six weeks out with a groin injury, though the Brazilian was included in the 18-man squad.

When asked about Puig on Tuesday, Setien said: "I don't know if you've followed my career, but this club has an extraordinary academy. While I don't know it in-depth, they [the biggest talents] will be training with us and participating.

"Those in the first team need to be clear; talent that's coming up will get the chances if they deserve them.

"I'll make a special effort to take care of the kids because you can always have a new kid coming through who adds energy to everything and that provides a boost to the squad, meaning those at the top don't relax.

"That's very important and it sends a message to the kids in the lower ranks. It's a message I always transmit. If they impress, earn their spot, they are perfectly able to play in the first team, that's clear."

Barca need to beat Granada to regain pole position in LaLiga from Real Madrid, who beat Sevilla 2-1 on Saturday.

Manchester City without Pep Guardiola?

Speculation over Guardiola's future is not going away, with Premier League champions City set to be dethroned by Liverpool this season.

And a move to Paris Saint-Germain could be on the cards…

 

TOP STORY – PSG PREPARE MAMMOTH GUARDIOLA OFFER

French champions Paris Saint-Germain are trying to lure Pep Guardiola from Manchester City, according to the Express.

Amid uncertainty over Guardiola's future, the Ligue 1 holders are ready to make a huge offer to tempt the City manager to Paris.

Guardiola, whose side appear set to finish some distance behind Liverpool in the Premier League, has also been linked with a return to Barcelona, despite their appointment of Quique Setien this week.

 

 

ROUND-UP

- According to The Mirror, Premier League leaders Liverpool and rivals Chelsea will battle it out for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner.

- Juventus midfielder and former Liverpool star Emre Can is wanted by Everton, reports The Mirror. Can is out of favour in Turin and has been previously linked to Manchester United.

- Il Corriere dello Sport claims Sevilla want to sign Inter midfielder Matias Vecino, who appears destined to leave Milan ahead of Christian Eriksen's reported arrival from Tottenham.

- Speculation over Bruno Fernandes' future is set to drag on. Although he has been tipped to join United, Sporting CP and the Red Devils are reportedly miles apart in their valuations of the captain. While United want to bring in Fernandes this month, the Standard says they are threatening to abandon their pursuit over fears it could damage Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's transfer plans at the end of the season. Over-paying for Fernandes has prompted concerns it could impact United's interest in Leicester City star James Maddison and Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho.

Real Madrid are unwilling to loan out James Rodriguez, with Marca reporting the LaLiga giants are only interested in selling the Colombia international.

Barcelona and Juventus are in talks about a possible swap deal involving Ivan Rakitic and Federico Bernardeschi.

Rakitic was linked with an exit from Camp Nou during the close season, but ended up staying at Barca.

But he could be on his way to Turin and Bernardeschi may be heading in the opposite direction.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA, JUVE IN RAKITIC-BERNARDESCHI SWAP TALKS

Barcelona and Juventus are discussing a possible swap deal involving Rakitic and Bernardeschi, according to AS.

The report says Rakitic – who has made just six LaLiga starts this season – has already agreed personal terms with the Serie A giants.

However, the clubs are yet to reach an agreement, with Rakitic six years older than Italy international Bernardeschi.

ROUND-UP

- There is still work to be done if Bruno Fernandes is to find his way to Manchester United. The Daily Mail and The Sun report United want to pay Sporting CP £34million (€39.9m) with a further £25.5m (€29.9m) in add-ons, including bonuses for the English club winning the Premier League and Champions League.

- Atletico Madrid are not giving up on trying to land Edinson Cavani in this window. The LaLiga side are still eyeing a move for the Paris Saint-Germain forward, according to Marca, although they are hoping to negotiate a lower price than the €30m the Ligue 1 club are reportedly wanting.

- The wait continues for Inter as they try to sign Christian Eriksen. CalcioMercato reports Eriksen's agent Martin Schoots is scheduled to meet Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy in London next week as the midfielder tries to get his move to the Serie A giants.

- Chelsea are favourites to sign RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner ahead of the 2020-21 season, according to The Sun, but it may take a £68m (€79.8m) deal to land the 23-year-old.

- Arsenal are set for talks with Athletico Paranaense to negotiate a deal for midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, according to Globo Esporte.

- Staying at Arsenal and France Football reports Paris Saint-Germain left-back Layvin Kurzawa has agreed to join the Premier League club for free at season's end.

- Javier Hernandez will become one of the highest paid players in MLS. Sports Illustrated reports LA Galaxy will pay Sevilla $9.4m (€8.5m) for the forward, who is set to earn $6m annually, with the potential for that to rise due to bonuses.

Quique Setien is already attempting to implement changes at Barcelona and the players are fully behind him, says Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Former Real Betis coach Setien took over at LaLiga leaders Barca on Monday after the club parted company with Ernesto Valverde.

His first match in charge comes on Sunday, with Granada visit Camp Nou.

Upon his arrival at Barca, Setien thanked Valverde for his work, though also vowed to apply his own attacking, possession-based playing style, which drew plaudits during his time at Las Palmas and Betis.

Barca goalkeeper Ter Stegen revealed Setien has already put new ideas across to the Blaugrana squad, who the Germany international says will do everything in their power to ensure the 61-year-old is a success.

"We have a new coach, who is trying to change some things, everyone has their idea of ​​football, we are listening, we try to do what they ask and give everything to make it possible," Ter Stegen told the media after being presented with the Barca Players Association award on Friday.

"We really want to continue [to be] first in LaLiga and to continue in the Champions League.

"We have a long way to go and we will give it our all. Let's go for everything."

Xavi won his second trophy as a coach after leading Al Sadd to a 4-0 success over Al Duhail in the Qatar Cup final, days after turning down the Barcelona job.

Barca icon Xavi confirmed on Thursday that he had declined the opportunity to succeed Ernesto Valverde at Camp Nou.

Valverde was sacked on Monday, with former Real Betis and Las Palmas coach Quique Setien swiftly appointed.

Xavi claimed he turned Barca down because he believed it was "too soon" in his coaching career to take such a job, yet he will have done his credentials no harm with Friday's triumph.

Nam Tae-hee opened the scoring early on for Al Sadd, with Baghdad Bounedjah then doubling their tally after a mistake from Duhail's goalkeeper Amine Lecomte.

Bounedjah helped himself to a second before half-time, with Akram Afif's penalty completing the rout midway through the second half.

Friday's victory secured Xavi his second piece of silverware in charge of Al Sadd, who won the Qatari Super Cup in August last year.

Barca, meanwhile, kick-off the Setien era with a home match against Granada in LaLiga on Sunday.

Zinedine Zidane has sympathy with sacked Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde but does not expect Real Madrid's Clasico rivals to be any less of a threat under Quique Setien.

Barca opted to part ways with Valverde after their Supercopa de Espana semi-final exit at the hands of Atletico Madrid, despite winning LaLiga in each of the former Athletic Bilbao coach's two full seasons at the helm.

This time around the Blaugrana are level on points at the summit with Madrid, who claimed Supercopa glory with a penalty shoot-out triumph against Atleti.

"I'm sorry for him, first of all. That's all I can really say," Madrid manager Zidane told a news conference.

"It's not a great situation but he's a coach who's always shown that he's very good. I've got a great deal of admiration for him

"Each club and each situation is different. Each coach knows what they’re doing and where they're at. They know what the situation is at a big club.

"If we lose two games I'm going to get criticised as well. That happened not too long ago. I know where I am and what the situation is.

"We can’t always play well and win, so it is difficult. But what we try to do is give 100 per cent. It's the same for the coach at Barcelona, we all try and do our best and then you people can go off and talk about whatever you want.

"Things are never going to change, but I'm sorry about Valverde losing his job."

Setien does not have a major honour to his name in his coaching career but there is excitement over how his all-action, high-pressing style will work at Camp Nou.

"I expect them to be the same as always. Barcelona will always compete with all the coaches they have. Nothing is going to change," Zidane said.

"They’re going to do their work and we're going to do ours. Things will always be the same. We’ll always have the same rivalry."

Madrid welcome Sevilla and Julen Lopetegui to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, somewhat fittingly at a time when a high-profile sacking is dominating the news agenda.

Lopetegui did not last until November in the 2018-19 season after he succeeded Zidane at the end of the Frenchman's first spell as Los Blancos' boss.

"I don’t have to give any explanations about any of that," Zidane shot back when asked why he and Lopetegui had vastly different records with largely the same squad.

"You have to live every different situation, do what you do.

"He did what he wanted to do here. He's a good coach, he's always proven that – both before and after Real Madrid

"But I've got nothing to say about his period here at Real Madrid. What I can say is he's a good coach. He's proven that again this season."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.