Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang believes he can become a Champions League winner with Barcelona and expects Xavi to use him as a number nine.

Released by Arsenal after a turbulent end to his Gunners career, Aubameyang described coming to Barcelona as "the opportunity of my life".

The 32-year-old forward has been brought in to add experience and goals to a Barcelona team who have been short on both counts this season.

For all the talented youngsters being brought through, Barcelona sit fifth in LaLiga after 21 games, having won only nine times so far.

Aubameyang follows Ferran Torres and Adama Traore in leaving the Premier League for Camp Nou in recent weeks, and while Barcelona have already been knocked out of this season's Champions League, the latest addition to Xavi's squad sees no reason why they should not be successful there next term.

"Barca is a great club that has to win the Champions League. That's why I came to Barca," Aubameyang said at his presentation.

"It's an opportunity to win the Champions League, and I'm here to do everything we can to get back into the Champions League and then go out and win it.

"It's true that I've not played for a little while, but in my head everything's very clear, and I'll be ready soon to play and help out, and I know we're going to go back to the top little by little.

"I have spoken with the coach. He sees me playing as a number nine, and I will be ready very soon to play there. If he needs me on the wing, there will be no problem with that."

Barcelona have scored just 32 goals in LaLiga so far in 2021-22, the seventh-most in the competition. This is despite them having the second-highest expected goals (xG) total of 36.9 (beaten only by Real Madrid's 44.58).

The xG metric looks at the quality of a team's chances, rather than the quality of finishing, and by bringing in Torres and Aubameyang, Barcelona will hope they can begin to make better use of their opportunities.

Aubameyang said the move had felt "like a dream" and he was "not ready to wake up", but the mention of Erling Haaland from reporters at his presentation may have been a momentary reality check.

For all that Aubameyang may bring this season, Barcelona are already looking for newer additions, and 21-year-old striker Haaland has been long linked with the club.

The Norwegian is starring for another of Aubameyang's former teams, Borussia Dortmund, and Barcelona president Joan Laporta ushered away enquiries at Thursday's presentation when Haaland's name was raised.

Aubameyang has scored seven goals this season at one every 159.29 minutes, while Haaland has hit 23 for Dortmund, finding the back of the net every 70.35 minutes.

"Today we're occupied and very excited with Aubameyang," Laporta said. "In June, we will strengthen the squad. We're on the right track.

"Right now, we're occupied with the present and the immediate. What we want is to try and compete for the league, and also win of course the Europa League, which are the competitions that remain today.

"That's the state of affairs today. With regard to players, it's of course work for the technical staff. There are interesting players, and we will evaluate the opportunity to incorporate those, but I'm not going to talk about that now."

Dani Alves is the new signing to miss out on Barcelona's Europa League squad after the club confirmed his omission on Wednesday.

The Brazilian, who rejoined the Blaugrana in November, was finally registered for LaLiga duty at the start of January but will not feature for the club in their European campaign.

Alves was joined at the club by fellow new arrivals Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January, but only three would be permitted to be included in the Europa League squad.

UEFA regulations prohibit any more than three new additions to European squads after the January transfer window.

As such, Barca had more new signings than free spaces, with 38-year-old Alves ultimately the one left out.

Ousmane Dembele has been included, however, despite his contract stand-off seeing tensions rise at the club over the past few weeks.

President Joan Laporta openly suggested the situation might make it "more difficult" for Dembele to feature, though he did leave that up to the discretion of head coach Xavi.

Like Alves, young forwards Ez Abde and Ferran Jutgla were left out of the selection despite breaking into the first-team squad – neither were registered with UEFA at the start of the season, nor do either qualify as a homegrown Barca player, therefore would have been competing with the new signings for spaces in the squad.

Barca face Napoli in their Europa League knockout play-off, hosting them on February 17 before going to Naples a week later.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has said it is "amazing" to have Xavi as a coach after completing his move to Barcelona.

Aubameyang joined the LaLiga giants after being released from his contract with Arsenal, agreeing a contract until June 2025 with an option to cut ties earlier, in June 2023. It includes a buy-out clause of €100million.

The 32-year-old fell out with previous manager, Mikel Arteta, resulting in him losing the captaincy at the Emirates Stadium and being left out of recent squads.

Speaking to the club's official social media, Aubameyang spoke of his admiration for Xavi, a Barca legend and World Cup winner, saying: "I think that's amazing to have [Xavi] as a coach. He has been a fantastic player that everyone knows, and I'm sure that as a coach he will bring us something that we will learn, definitely."

The Gabon international also spoke of his pride in making the move to the Blaugrana, explaining that his main goal is to help them get back into the Champions League.

"I am very proud [to be here], especially because my family is Spanish as well from my mother's side so I'm just really proud and happy to be here," he said.

"My main goal is to help the team and to give everything I can to bring the team back in the Champions League. I am just happy to be here and I will try to give everything."

Another January signing was La Masia graduate Adama Traore, who joined on loan from Wolves.

However, at a media conference to present the winger, it was another wide forward already at the club who stole the headlines as for the second day in a row, Barca president Joan Laporta openly criticised Ousmane Dembele for not agreeing to a January move away from Camp Nou.

The club had been hoping to ship the France international out, with Paris Saint-Germain reportedly agreeing terms with Dembele over the weekend, but a move did not materialise.

Barca are still struggling financially as the club attempts to bounce back from previous years of mismanagement, and on Tuesday at another news conference to reveal details of the forensic review into financial irregularities by the previous regime, Laporta responded to questions on Dembele, saying he could not understand why the player had not left in January.

He followed this up with more comments on Wednesday, telling reporters: "Our [contract] offer [to Dembele] expired on December 20 and after that, there was no other proposal. We saw a lack of interest in renewing and accepting our offer which was really good. We tried to fix things but there were no options available."

Dembele, who played with Aubameyang at Borussia Dortmund, is out of contract in the summer, and Laporta has said it will be up to Xavi whether he plays for the club again, while also indicating his belief that the Frenchman - who has suffered numerous injuries since arriving in Spain - has been disappointing since his big money move in 2017.

"We have a player with a contract that expires in June and the player is at the disposal of the coach, so the coach is the one who will decide whether he plays or not," he added. "But Xavi is just as surprised as all of us that Dembele has not renewed his contract.

"We invested a lot of money and we wanted to see that investment on the ground more often, but we came out a little disappointed."

Barcelona have confirmed they will assist the Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Barcelona and the police department after finding certain irregularities during a forensic investigation into the club's financial situation under the previous board.

The Catalan giants' financial issues in recent years have been widely reported, which led to club legend Lionel Messi having to leave for Paris Saint-Germain last year after LaLiga denied his contract renewal due to the salary cap imposed on Barca as a result of financial mismanagement.

Barca president Joan Laporta – who returned to the club for a second spell after winning the election in March last year to replace the outgoing Josep Maria Bartomeu – commissioned a due diligence procedure from Deloitte, which revealed a due debt of €1.173billion and a loss of €481m.

Laporta was joined by the club's vice president Eduard Romeu and Jaume Campaner, a corporate lawyer contracted to work on the investigation, at a media conference on Tuesday to outline the findings of the investigation.

Laporta said "payments without cause, payments with a false cause or disproportionate payments were found" while Campaner explained that the findings showed "very serious criminal behaviour".

One of the more interesting revelations from Campaner included a company apparently being created to work on commissions with the club, saying: "We are talking about millionaire amounts. There are payments to intermediaries without justification, non-existence, or well above normal. Commissions of up to 33 per cent have been detected, while only up to five per cent is normal.

"There is a company that was born solely to work on commissions with Barcelona. Completely artificial accounting benefits were presented that are not the reality of the club."

Romeu explained that when he and Laporta arrived last year, they found that the wage bill was 40 per cent higher than those of rival clubs, and as such they have set about trying to drastically trim it where they can, including asking players to take pay cuts and moving on unwanted players.

"The salary bill is fundamental," Romeu said. "We were 40 per cent above our competitors and that was a completely unsustainable situation. To date, we have already saved €159m from the club's wage bill."

A statement on the club's website following the news conference explained the situation in further detail, confirming: "These sources and the conclusions made therefrom by independent analysts have compelled the FC Barcelona Board of Directors to deliver the said material and the supporting evidence to the Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Barcelona as the body that safeguards the principle of legality and which rules on the prosecution of allegedly criminal conduct, with the support of the police departments, whose duty it is to investigate matters involving potential conduct of a criminal nature.

"The allegations filed with the Public Prosecutor's Office are not addressed at any specific persons. They are limited to a description of certain circumstances and it is up to the investigators to determine who might be responsible.

"FC Barcelona is assisting the Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Barcelona and the police department with its enquiries in order to support any clarifications and provide any evidence that they might need in order to thoroughly investigate the circumstances.

"It is because of the social importance of FC Barcelona that the Board of Directors has initiated this exercise of responsibility from the conviction that the club's assets, which are the property of all of its members, must be respected and managed not only in an effective manner in economic and sporting terms, but also is good faith and in consideration of the institution and its members."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta believes Ousmane Dembele already has an agreement to join another club when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Speaking on Tuesday, Laporta gave details of the negotiations that took place to renew the winger's contract.

The 24-year-old was then told to find another club in the January transfer window after those talks broke down – he had been linked with a number of Premier League teams, as well as Paris Saint-Germain – but a move never materialised.

Barcelona director of football Mateu Alemany told Dembele last week he must leave "immediately", which prompted the player to issue an angry riposte on social media.

Speaking at a news conference where Barca were outlining the details of the forensic review into financial irregularities by the previous regime, Laporta was asked about Dembele's situation.

"Ousmane said that the renewal offer was very good, then it was an economic issue," he explained. "And when we told him that it was already good enough, the agent took a position in not saying anything.

"Dembele wanted to accept a renewal. Then they wanted more and the issue got stuck. His agent didn't say anything and that has consequences. We've done everything possible and he hasn't accepted."

Dembele has struggled since joining from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 for an initial €105million, and has suffered several injuries that have kept him from getting a sustained run in the team.

Laporta also revealed the player turned down an opportunity to sign for an unnamed English suitor and believes this was because he already has an agreement with another club for when his contract at the Camp Nou expires at the end of the current campaign.

"We are very surprised that he didn't accept the offer from the English club either, he prefers to stay here," Laporta said. "It's not good for him or for the club.

"What happened with Dembele is difficult to understand. He is now in the squad and Xavi must work on the present but also on the future.

"We think Dembele has an agreement with another club."

Barcelona signed three players in the January transfer window, registering the returning Dani Alves, along with Ferran Torres and the loan of Adama Traore, while it is also expected the club will announce Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on a free transfer imminently.

Laporta confirmed: "Aubameyang's documents entered with one minute to go before midnight."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta told the football world to "get ready" as he refused to discount the prospect of signing Erling Haaland this year.

On Monday, the Catalans presented new arrival Ferran Torres, who joined from Manchester City in a deal that could be worth €55million.

The Spain international's arrival came despite Barca's well-publicised financial problems, with debts rising above €1.2billion last year.

Indeed, the club will be unable to register Torres until they offload some players as they would otherwise risk exceeding their salary cap, which is also the reason they have had to wait to add veteran Dani Alves to the squad.

Despite their financial constraints, club members voted last month to approve the €1.5bn Espai Barca project that will see an overhaul of Camp Nou and other facilities, while rumours persist that they will sign Alvaro Morata on a loan deal in this transfer window.

There is also speculation Barca will be at the front of the queue to sign Borussia Dortmund star Haaland this year and Laporta did little to discourage such talk.

Asked about Haaland specifically, he told reporters: "If you'll allow me, I won't talk about particular names. It doesn't help at all. It increases their value.

"We're working to reinforce the positions the coaching team have asked us to. Today, we have Ferran, who is from Valencia, and we're proud because Catalans and Valencianos are first cousins.


"Barca are a benchmark in the market and every player considers us a model. We have a squad under reconstruction, and we'll soon see the resurrection of the team.

"Ferran is the proof: that a top-quality player has shown a desire to come to Barca means the resurgence is a reality.

"Everyone should get ready. We're back."

Laporta added: "We're working with the technical secretary to have a competitive team. Xavi supported the Ferran operation and that's been concluded successfully.

"Anything is possible. We're in the market and we're waiting on everything. Barca continue to be a benchmark. Every player considers the possibility of coming to Barca.

"We're progressing well; everything is working quite well. There are some necessary things for this season, so we can win the maximum number of trophies possible and try to respect the will of our coach. The signing of Ferran is really important for the project.

"Other signings we're thinking about for this market, we'll announce to you. We're working very calmly. We're on track to make new signings in the winter market and the technical secretary is working for next season."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta says the first team must be reinforced with new signings in January and assured fans that the club "are working" towards that goal.

The Blaugrana are enduring a difficult campaign, sitting seventh in LaLiga after 15 games - 16 points behind rivals Real Madrid at the top of the table with a game in hand on the leaders.

Barca have also been eliminated from the Champions League at the group stage, finishing one point behind Benfica in third, and will now have to play a Europa League knockout play-off tie.

Financial issues prevented the club from offering Lionel Messi a new contract, with the 34-year-old leaving on a free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain in the last transfer window.

Barca attempted to replace him with two attacking signings – Memphis Depay and Sergio Aguero – who both arrived on free transfers themselves, but the latter has only featured five times and has been ruled out indefinitely with a heart condition.

Laporta is aware that the Blaugrana require new faces if they are to return to competing for major silverware, but pointed to a hefty wage bill as a significant obstacle.

"We all agree that we must reinforce the first team," Laporta said on Friday. "The problem is that we have inherited contracts that do not give us a salary margin.

"Even so, we are looking for the formula to improve the first team in this winter market. We are working to achieve it."

Barca's next game is against Osasuna away from home on Sunday as they look to close the six-point gap between themselves and the Champions League places.

Xavi claimed Ousmane Dembele could become the "best player in the world in his position" after Barcelona president Joan Laporta suggested the forward is better than Kylian Mbappe.

Dembele, who was a €105million signing from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with a move away from Camp Nou in January.

The France international will be free to discuss fresh terms with clubs next month if a new contract cannot be agreed with current club Barca.

Laporta revealed on Thursday that negotiations were going slower than expected with Dembele but assured the following day that the 24-year-old wanted to stay and told TV3 he believes the Barca forward was better than Mbappe.

"We have a very good relationship with Dembele and he wants to stay," Laporta said.

"We also want him to stay because he's a great player. These situations need negotiations with representatives who want the best for the player.

"I'm enthusiastic about Dembele. He's a better player than Mbappe."

Asked for an update on the Dembele situation, Xavi told reporters:  "What I know is that it is not only the economic issue.

"We have left him a very clear position. He is a very important player with great talent. I already said it, he can be the best player in the world in his position. It depends on him. 

"We think of him as a key figure in this project. If it is because of the sporting project, he is happy. We are going to be positive. It is not just an economic issue. He wanted to feel loved and this he will have."

Questions were then put forward as to whether Dembele would feature without signing a contract and Xavi responded: "It would not be the objective, if he has a contract I think he has to play. 

"You have to be positive. But on the other hand, I am very clear on that, if you have a contract you have to play, also because of the image of the club. I do not value that option; I do not contemplate it."


Club legend Xavi took the reins after Ronald Koeman's dismissal in late October and has triumphed in his opening two LaLiga games – only four Barca managers have ever won their first three in the competition in the 21st century.

The Catalan club sit seventh, 13 points off leaders Real Madrid ahead of facing Betis, who have won just one of 20 previous top-flight meetings with Barca.

Xavi's side then face Bayern Munich on Wednesday in a crucial Champions League clash that they are likely to have to win to qualify for the knockout stages, but the former midfielder insisted his focus was on Betis.

"I look no further," Xavi responded when asked about the week ahead. "Each game is vital. Tomorrow is also a final. We cannot lose points if we want to connect and fight for the league. 

"We will play with the best 11, with whom I think they can perform better due to the circumstances. The league will tell us where we are at the end of the season.

"It is an important week like the next one will also be. And in January. Barca is a daily requirement and every game. 

"Every week at Barca is vital. There is no rest until the holidays and more in this situation, we can't give anything away.

"Barca aspires to win everything and time will always tell where we got to. We are a team made to win, compete and the notes will say where we have competed."

Discussions between Ousmane Dembele and Barcelona over a new deal for the forward are going slower than hoped, according to the club's president Joan Laporta.

Dembele, a €105million signing from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with a move away from Camp Nou in January.

Recent reports from Spain suggest the France international's agent, Moussa Sissoko, is prepared to listen to offers as he is not happy with Barca's latest contract proposal.

The 24-year-old can discuss a free transfer with overseas clubs from next month if fresh terms cannot be finalised with Barca, but Laporta is hopeful of an agreement being found.

"It has been a slower process than desired on our part," he told TV3. "We are working on it, we continue with our swords raised."

Dembele's time at Barcelona has been blighted by fitness problems, but he remains a key player for the Catalan giants when available.

He has managed 30 goals and 20 assists in 121 appearances since his debut in September 2017, meaning he has been directly involved in 0.65 goals per 90 minutes.

That puts him on a par with Liverpool's Roberto Firmino among players from Europe's top five leagues, and just behind Inter's Lautaro Martinez (0.67).


However, to put Dembele's injury issues into some context, the 121 games he has played for Barca is 91 fewer than team-mate Sergio Busquets over the same period.

Laporta is excited about what Dembele still has to give to Barca, though, should a new contract be agreed.

Dembele's future is one of a number of issues Barca have to resolve ahead of the January transfer window, which is expected to be a quiet one at Camp Nou.

The club's well-documented financial problems mean signing any new players next month is not possible unless others are moved on.

"We can't ignore that there is a salary margin. We first have to expand that salary margin and the only way to expand it is for some players to come out of the squad," Laporta said.

"Xavi knows the players he has and is in permanent communication with the football director, Mateu Alemany, our general director and the people we trust.

"If it is possible to strengthen the team, we will see what possibilities we have.

"Xavi has a lot of players and we are sure that he will be able to get much more out of the squad than has been obtained so far. 

"We are confident that Xavi will apply a criterion that will make this squad much more efficient than it is."

Barca are unbeaten in three games under new head coach Xavi and return to LaLiga action on Saturday with a home match against Real Betis.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has not ruled out the possibility of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta returning to the club in the future.

Speaking at an event presenting Dani Alves to over 10,000 fans at the Camp Nou, Laporta suggested the return of the Brazilian right-back might not be the only reunion in the coming years.

Iniesta left Barca to sign for Japanese side Vissel Kobe in 2018, while debts of more than €1.2billion meant the Blaugrana could not afford to sign Messi to a new contract, leading to the Argentine moving to Paris Saint-Germain in August.


"I do not rule it out," Laporta said when asked about the possibility of Messi and Iniesta returning.

"It has happened with Dani, and I want to thank him because he has seen the situation of the club and wants to come to help."

Alves is the first signing for new head coach, Xavi, and penned a deal until the end of the season, but will not be eligible to play until January.

"I also thank him for making an economic effort. We are going to reverse this situation, but now he has made this effort. It has to be appreciated," Laporta added.

"These are people who have made this club great. Messi and Iniesta are spectacular, I cannot predict the future, as they are still playing, but they have made the club great, we always keep them in mind, although now they have contracts with other clubs and you have to respect that, but in life you never know."

Laporta was also asked about contract renewals, with speculation around new deals for Ousmane Dembele and Gavi, to which he replied: "Hopefully we can achieve more renewals soon."

Alves was asked about Dembele, who has also received a vote of confidence from Xavi in recent days. The 38-year-old said: "He needs to understand that he's playing for Barca. It's my mission to remind that to him, that he's really good, that he's phenomenal and that he can achieve great things at this club."

Lionel Messi felt "hurt" when it emerged Barcelona president Joan Laporta had hoped the six-time Ballon d'Or winner would play for free in order to stay at Camp Nou.

Messi left Barcelona in August after spending his entire professional career to that point with the club, his contract having expired at the end of June.

Barca expected Messi to be re-signed after they agreed a new contract with him, but LaLiga ultimately blocked them from doing so as the league refused to let the Blaugrana circumvent salary cap rules.

Due to suffering €480million in losses over the previous financial year, during which their debts increased to €1.4billion, Barca saw their salary cap reduced by €280m for 2021-22.

That left them with a spending limit of €97m, less than a seventh of Real Madrid's cap (€739m), and a smaller budget than five other clubs.

As such, Barca had to reduce wage spending significantly, but even Messi's agreed contract being worth only 50 per cent of his previous deal was not going to be enough and the club eventually accepted retaining him was an impossibility, allowing Paris Saint-Germain to make their move.

Laporta said last month that, while he bears no anger towards Messi, he hoped there would be a last-minute change "and Messi would say that he would play for free", comments that seemingly did not sit well with the Argentinian.


"The truth is that, as I explained on my way out, I did everything possible to stay," Messi told Sport. "Never at any time was I asked to play for free.

"I was asked to cut my salary by 50 per cent and I did it without any problem. We were in a position to help the club more. The desire and desire of me and my family was to stay in Barcelona.

"Nobody asked me to play for free, but at the same time it seems to me that the words said by the president are out of place.

"They hurt me because I think he doesn't need to say it, it's like getting the ball off you and not assuming its consequences, or taking charge of things.

"This makes people think or generates a type of doubt that I think I don't deserve."

Messi signed a two-year contact with Paris Saint-Germain, at the end of which he will be 36 years old.

Joan Laporta is adamant Xavi will be Barcelona head coach one day but refused to reveal if he will replace Ronald Koeman in the dugout this season.

Koeman was relieved of his duties on Wednesday after a poor start to the season that has left Barca ninth in LaLiga and with just three points from three Champions League games. Barca B boss Sergi Barjuan has taken temporary charge.

Club legend and Al Sadd manager Xavi has emerged as the front-runner for the permanent position, but Barca president Laporta – while praising the 41-year-old – maintained he is keeping his options open.

Xavi guided Al Sadd to the Qatar Stars League title last season and has claimed six cups since taking over in 2019, having spent four years at the club as a player.

"I have always said that Xavi will coach Barca one day," Laporta said ahead of Barca's contest with Deportivo Alaves on Saturday. "He is a person who lives for football, he belongs to Barca and has it as a priority objective in his life.

"What I think is that I have a very good relationship with him and we'll see how everything evolves. I have been talking to Xavi since the election campaign and contact has never been broken. 

"I have not changed my opinion about Xavi. Since he went to Qatar, I said he would be a Barca coach. What I don't know is when. The reports we have are very good.

"I have not followed Al Sadd. All the inputs that come to us are positive. He has recently taken the step of being a coach and does not have a long career. As much as we talk about Xavi, let me keep my [options open]."

Laporta also acknowledged the club should have dismissed Koeman sooner and accepts responsibility for the delay in the decision being made.

"[Giving Koeman time] was a way to motivate the coach and the team," Laporta continued. "Possibly we should have decided earlier, and I take responsibility for this decision. The situation was untenable. We had entered a dangerous drift in which we could disengage from everything.

"Ronald is a legend of Barcelona and we had to thank him for the effort he made. I told Ronald that, good luck and thank you very much. Possibly I had to make the decision before, but I opted for this decision."

The Barca president insisted that whoever is brought in as the new head coach will be backed by the board but will also be expected to deliver success within a short period of time.

"[The new head coach] will have the full support of the board that I preside over and the football management," Laporta added. "We will see how he evolves. He will have all our support and all our demands because we aspire to win the competitions we are in.

"At Barca, there are no transitional seasons. Everything is possible in football."

Ronald Koeman has been sacked by Barcelona after the club’s dismal start to the 2021-22 campaign rolled on.

Koeman replaced Quique Setien in August 2020 but has failed to make an impact at Camp Nou as he battled with Barca's dire financial situation, which led to Lionel Messi departing for Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca sit ninth in LaLiga after 10 games and Wednesday’s defeat to Rayo Vallecano proved the final straw.

That loss followed on from a 2-1 home reverse at the hands of Real Madrid in El Clasico, with Koeman's vehicle mobbed by an angry group of Barca supporters after that match. 

Barca's form in the Champions League has also been poor. The Blaugrana lost 3-0 to Bayern Munich and Benfica respectively in their opening matches, before clinching a 1-0 home win over Dynamo Kiev.

It is the first time Barca have opened with two losses in the competition, while the defeat to Benfica also inflicted back-to-back group game losses in a single season for the first time since 2000-01, with only Louis van Gaal (five) losing more such matches at Barca's helm than Koeman (three).

After each passing poor result, Koeman has conceded his future is out of his hands, though he argued the performance against Rayo did not befit the result.

Yet Barca's board decided to cut ties, with their decision confirmed early on Thursday morning local time.


Ansu Fati dismissed suggestions that inheriting Lionel Messi's number 10 shirt at Barcelona has brought additional expectations after committing his long-term future to the Catalan club.

Fati signed a new six-year contract to keep him at the club until 2027, with a release clause of €1billion included - a week after Pedri had penned a similar extension with the Blaugrana.

The Spain international burst onto the scene after making his debut in August 2019, becoming the club's youngest ever LaLiga goalscorer at the age of 16 years and 304 days.

He is also the youngest scorer in Champions League history, after netting against Inter in December 2019 a minute after his introduction from the bench.

The 18-year-old inherited the number 10 shirt after the departure of Barca great Messi, who left on a free transfer for Paris Saint-Germain amid salary cap issues with LaLiga in August.

However, Fati insisted that no pressure comes with the famous shirt as he expressed his desire to succeed with his boyhood club after coming up through the La Masia academy.

"My dream has always been to succeed here and continue growing here, luckily I will continue to do so," Fati told reporters on Thursday.

"I'm going to work every day to improve as a person and as a player. I have not done anything yet, I must continue working, mark my path.

"I am very grateful to the club for having trusted me, along with the captains. It could have been worn by another player, but I'm grateful.

"I was ready because they are at Barca and at Barca you must be prepared for everything. Wearing the '10' is not a pressure, it is one more motivation, I will do the best I can."


An almost year-long injury lay-off could have stunted the youngster's development, but he has managed two goals in five appearances since returning in September.

He has registered 15 goals in 48 games for the LaLiga giants in total, a tally that is bettered only by Luis Suarez (21), Antoine Griezmann (35) and Messi (69) – none of whom are still at the club – since his senior debut.

But Fati explained his ambition to keep improving at Barca, who are preparing for a Clasico showdown against Real Madrid on Sunday.

"I have a lot of room for improvement, especially listening to people who can help you," he continued. "I would like to improve everything, I have not done anything yet, with work.

"Playing a Clasico is a motivation, Madrid is our great rival. I know that the team is going to give everything for the victory.

"I trust the team, it is true that we have to improve as always. We are going to go out and compete and play at home, which is a factor in our favour."

Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu defended his Camp Nou tenure by insisting that he oversaw a "serious and responsible" period at the club.

Bartomeu stepped down as Barcelona chief in October 2020 after nearly seven years in the role ahead of a vote of no confidence against his leadership.

Barca won numerous major honours during that era, including their most recent Champions League in 2015, by which point concerns were growing over the club's transfer policy.

There has been a steady decline in recent years and the Catalan giants' financial problems have been laid bare since Laporta took over from Bartomeu in March.

The club's total debt has spiralled to the €1.35billion mark and they were unable to fulfil a contract that had been agreed with Lionel Messi in the most recent transfer window.

On the back of Messi's shock departure in August, Laporta alleged that Bartomeu was to blame due to his "disastrous" running of the club.

However, in his first interview since departing the club, Bartomeu has highlighted some of the positives from his tumultuous tenure. 

"Has our management been disastrous? I know it's a phrase that's been running but our management has been very serious and responsible," he told Mundo Deportivo.

"It was rigorous with a project and strategic plan that was established in 2015.

"Sports management and the entire heritage project prevailed, economically and socially. We've done many projects and we're the board that's been most active.

"But as of March 2020, that serious and rigorous management was truncated by the appearance of the coronavirus pandemic, which drastically decreased revenues. 

"From then on we suffered from a deep cut."

Asked again about Laporta's comments, Bartomeu said: "It has not been disastrous. There have been benefits of about €185m. It has been a good management.

"Forbes magazine said that in 2020 the club was the most valuable in the world."

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