Barcelona coach Xavi has hinted Sergino Dest's future may lie elsewhere amid reports linking the United States international with a move to Manchester United.

With Aaron Wan-Bissaka out of favour and Diogo Dalot struggling during a torrid start to the Premier League season for United, Erik ten Hag's side have been touted as potential suitors for the right-back.

Dest, who made 21 appearances as Barca finished second in LaLiga last season, was left out of the Blaugrana's squad for an opening-day draw with Rayo Vallecano last week.

Xavi moved natural centre-back Ronald Araujo to the right for that match, and Barcelona were strongly linked with a move for Cesar Azpilicueta before he signed a new two-year contract with Chelsea.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's trip to Real Sociedad, Xavi claimed Barca were well-stocked in Dest's position, insisting: "We were very clear with the planning. We wanted to sign Azpilicueta, but it couldn't be, and now this is the situation. 

"There are people in the squad to cover this position. We have Araujo, who was good the other day, Sergi Roberto and even [Jules] Kounde."

Asked specifically about Dest, Xavi simply added: "He already knows what the situation is."

Frenkie de Jong was another Barcelona player linked with a move to Old Trafford, although United's imminent capture of Real Madrid enforcer Casemiro could signal the end of their long-running pursuit of the Netherlands international.

And Xavi, who labelled De Jong an "important player" earlier this month, has backed the classy midfielder to shine should he remain at Camp Nou.

Drawing a comparison between De Jong's playing style and his own, Xavi said: "I see him facing the game. It happens to him like me. I, with my back to the game, was not comfortable. 

"Facing the game, he is a spectacular footballer. He divides, he has strength and physical power, arrival, passing... He can be adapted to different positions. 

"I see him more on the inside [of the midfield], but he can also be a pivot. I can't imagine him playing on the side."

Barca are looking to maintain their strong record in San Sebastian when they face La Real in their first away match of the new season on Sunday, having gone unbeaten through their last six league trips to Anoeta.

Barcelona head coach Xavi has called for the transfer window to close before the start of the LaLiga season in the future amid uncertainty over a number of players in his squad.

Despite their delicate financial situation, the Catalans have moved to sign Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen this window.

Barca's focus is now on offloading players to help balance the books, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Memphis Depay and Frenkie de Jong all being linked with moves away.

According to widespread reports on Saturday, Chelsea are engaged in talks with Barca over a deal for Aubameyang, who only arrived from Arsenal earlier this year.

De Jong continues to be touted as a target for Premier League sides, meanwhile, and Depay is reportedly closing in on a switch to Juventus.

However, Xavi confirmed at a press conference ahead of Sunday's game with Real Sociedad that he intends to continue selecting those players while they remain at the club.

"It's not a comfortable situation," Xavi said when asked about the final two weeks of the transfer window. "The market should be closed before the competition starts.

"I think it's poorly organised. In the end, nobody can work in peace. You prepare for a match with a player and he may end up leaving, so it's clearly not an ideal scenario."

When probed on rumours that Chelsea are closing in on a deal for Aubameyang, Xavi said: "The market ends on August 31 and we don't know what will happen.

"We'll have to see. Right now he's our player and I'm counting on him. For now he's an important player for us, but let's see what happens.

"At the moment nobody mentioned has left. Tomorrow we can use Memphis and Aubameyang. If an offer arrives for either of them, we'll assess what to do.

"Right now the priority is to sign up Jules [Kounde]. From there we can decide if we need to make a move or not."

Kounde is the only new signing yet to be registered by Barca, who have been forced to sell off non-playing assets and activate various 'levers' to meet LaLiga's salary rules.

Providing an update on Kounde's situation ahead of the trip to Anoeta, where Barcelona are unbeaten in their past six visits, Xavi said: "We are waiting. We have time. 

"Tomorrow we will give the list, but right now everything is on stand-by. There is nothing new to tell you.

"I've spoken to Jules and given him my idea of the game. He is a very classy centre-back and has experience, leadership and can win duels. He is an extraordinary footballer."

Barca started their season with a goalless draw at home to Rayo Vallecano last week and will be looking to hit back against Sociedad. 

The Catalan club's 21 shots on matchday one were the most they have registered in the league without scoring since a stalemate with Malaga in November 2016 (29 shots).

"The match against Rayo was a football disgrace," Xavi said. "We deserved to win the match and played well, but we lacked effectiveness.

"Now we face Sociedad, who are a team that can do a lot of good things. They have talent in midfield and fast attackers, while their defenders and goalkeeper are strong."

Barca, who are without the suspended Sergio Busquets, have failed to win or score in their last three LaLiga matches – never before have they fired four blanks in a row.

Barcelona head coach Xavi asked the fans for "patience" after his side were held to a goalless draw against Rayo Vallecano in the opening match of their LaLiga campaign.

The hosts dominated possession but were wasteful in the final third, hitting the target with just six of their 21 attempts on goal , though they did see two efforts chalked off by the linesman's flag.

It extends Barcelona's barren streak in LaLiga to three games without a goal or win, stretching back to the end of last season – the first time the club have had such a sequence since October 2003.

After weeks of uncertainty, the club were able to register new recruits Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie, all of whom made their debuts in the draw, but the tame performance shows plenty of work is still to come.

Barca are yet to register Jules Kounde, signed from Sevilla, and continue to be linked with further additions before the transfer window closes on September 1 – with Xavi pleading with fans to trust in the club's process.

"We wanted to show people that we're on the right track because we've shown expectations, but it's the beginning," he said.

"We ask for patience and that people believe in this team. It is a disappointment today but it is the beginning and we must continue to believe in this game model that is the one that has to lead us to success.

"Because of the expectations generated, I think the team has been thicker, more tense. I tried to tell them that now the pressure is for me, for the coach. But Rayo has done a very good tactical job. The penalty is not having scored a goal. We must continue to grow."

Barcelona travel to face Real Sociedad next weekend and plenty could change in the coming days, with new registrations required, further signings touted and the potential for departures.

Jules Kounde is the only one of Barcelona's new signings who was not registered on the eve of the LaLiga season.

Barca head coach Xavi on Friday revealed the club were "very optimistic" that their new recruits would be registered, but all five may not be given the green light for their first match of the LaLiga campaign against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

It later emerged that Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie have been registered along with Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto, who signed new contracts

Centre-back Kounde's registration has not been sanctioned by LaLiga despite Barca having activated a fourth economic lever on Friday.

It had been reported that Kounde may be the last of the five new recruits the Catalan giants have brought in to be registered, given the big-money signing from Sevilla underwent surgery to repair a minor pelvis injury in June.

Barca have been busy raising funds to try and meet LaLiga's salary limits and sold a further 24.5 per cent of their production company for €100million, having also agreed a hugely lucrative sponsorship deal with Spotify and sold a percentage of broadcast rights.

The Blaugrana have lowered their wage bill by offloading players and could also sell Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who have both been linked with Chelsea.

Blaugrana head coach Xavi said in a press conference on Friday he was prepared for the possibility that some of his new men may not be eligible to play this weekend.

He told reporters: "We are working hard and everyone at the club is very positive. Maybe not 100 per cent [of the players will be registered], but we are optimistic. We'll see. The club has signed very well, I am very excited about the players we have signed. We have time until tomorrow and now we are very optimistic."

Barca are expected to make Chelsea full-back Marcos Alonso their next signing and they continue to be linked with Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva.

Xavi says Barcelona are "very optimistic" that their new signings will be registered, but they may not all be given the green light for their first match of the LaLiga season against Rayo Vallecano.

Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie have arrived at Camp Nou since the end of last season, but there is uncertainty over whether they will be able to make their competitive debuts on Saturday.

The Catalan giants have been busy trying to raise funds in order to meet LaLiga's salary limits ahead of the season and activated a fourth economic lever on Friday.

Barca sold a further 24.5 per cent of their production company for €100million, having also agreed a hugely lucrative sponsorship deal with Spotify and sold a percentage of LaLiga broadcast rights, 

They have been able to lower their wage bill by offloading players and more could follow, with Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reportedly targets for Chelsea.

Blaugrana head coach Xavi says he is prepared for the possibility that some of his new men may not be eligible to play this weekend.

He told reporters: "We are working hard and everyone at the club is very positive. Maybe not 100 per cent, but we are optimistic. We'll see. The club has signed very well, I am very excited about the players we have signed. We have time until tomorrow and now we are very optimistic."

Xavi maintained his plans for the opening match of the season have not been badly disrupted by being unsure over who will be available.

He said: "It has little influence, as at the end of the day we work on different systems, different variants. Either one or the other players, very few things change.

"We pretty much have two players for each position. We work the same, we don't have a different system with the way we play in attack. Not a lot varies and I insist that right now we are very optimistic of registering the players."

Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva and Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso continue to be linked with Barca, with just under three weeks before the transfer window closes.

A deal to sign Alonso is reported to have been agreed and Xavi made it clear he is eager to do further business.

"We are still planning ahead, that's a reality," the former Spain midfielder said. "We are going to see what we are going to do until August 31.

"Of course, we need to have players leave in order for others to come, but the transfer market is open until the 31st and there is work to be done for all of us. We'll see."

Xavi also revealed he wanted Nico Gonzalez to stay rather than join Valencia on loan for the season, adding: "[Nico] came to me three weeks ago. I insisted that he continue because he would have minutes. I like Nico.

"But a few days ago he came back and told me that there was a team where he would play. He has been brave and is going to Valencia.

"I hope he comes back more mature because it must be important for the future of Barca. For the midfield we have [Sergio] Busquets, [Miralem] Pjanic, Kessie, Frenkie, Sergi Roberto, and even Christensen, who can play there."

Barcelona fans may have completely forgotten there will be actual football to play very soon.

So chaotic and draining has the off-season been for Barca supporters that they'd be forgiven for thinking they were stuck in some form of purgatory, where the club's finances are discussed and debated endlessly.

In fairness, even those who don't necessarily support Barca may have similar feelings. If you've been following the soap opera in recent weeks and months, you'll already be sick to death of the word palanca, or 'lever'.

Of course, those proverbial levers are what president Joan Laporta has been pulling to inject capital. Barca were expected to work within another measly LaLiga salary limit this season before selling off some of their TV rights at the end of the last financial year, which meant they actually turned a profit.

With the other 'levers' Laporta has activated, he claims the club has brought in €860million in two months, but obviously the deals involved will result in reduced long-term income, hence the widespread suggestions Barca are "mortgaging their future".

It's probably an understatement to say there has been a lot to take in, and that's before we even mention the Frenkie de Jong sideshow, the signings and the latest concerns about whether their new players can even be registered.

In the background, Xavi continues to plug away and drown out all the nonsense surrounding the club, and on the pitch, there are genuine reasons for optimism at Camp Nou.

A platform of rapid improvement

There was a time last season – even after Xavi's November appointment – when Barca's campaign looked to be heading for embarrassment.

After a 1-0 defeat to Real Betis in December, Barca had 23 points from their first 16 matches of the league season, their worst total at that stage since 2002-03.

But the same team – plus a few January additions – claimed more points (45) in LaLiga than any other club after the turn of the year. Sure, Real Madrid played one game less over the same period, but even if they had contested an extra match and won, Los Blancos would still have been two points shy.

Of course, Madrid's focus towards the end was on the Champions League as they never looked likely to throw the title away, so it's probably not the perfect comparison, but it does at least highlight the results Xavi was getting and the degree of the turnaround he has already overseen at Camp Nou.

 

Similarly, there were signs of classic Barca in their performances. Their 9.4 high turnovers per game was a LaLiga high after Xavi's appointment, while they also boasted the greatest average share of possession (64 per cent).

Perhaps the biggest indicator of Barca's promise under Xavi was the 4-0 hammering of Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in March's Clasico. They had lost their previous five such clashes, including four in the league, making it the Blaugrana's worst run against their bitter rivals since the 1960s.

Barca were electric going forward, carving through Madrid almost at will, while they also looked solid defensively, with Xavi's decision to play Ronald Araujo at right-back proving wise as he kept Vinicius Junior in check.

Gerard Pique responded by declaring: "We are back."

Playing the part

The improvement Xavi instigated last season was made even more impressive by the fact certain players didn't have an especially prominent role.

Pedri made just 12 appearances in the league, while Ansu Fati recorded 10. Both were hampered by serious injuries but will in all likelihood – assuming they stay fit – be key players this season.

Pedri will be the vital midfield conductor, keeping the build-up play ticking over, while Fati can provide both goals and creativity from out wide on the left. As clichéd as it sounds, the Spain forward will feel every bit a new signing if he can stay out of the medical room.

 

But it's also fair to say there are several players whose reputations have been enhanced lately – or at the very least restored.

Ronald Araujo really stepped up last season and matured into a colossus of a centre-back. Athletic, composed on the ball and uncompromising in defence, the Uruguayan looks cut out for a long career at the heart of Barca's backline.

While some might've had concerns about his ability to get Barca on the front foot, with his passing range hardly that of a young Pique, the arrival of Jules Kounde should offset those worries given the France international's reputation as an excellent progressor of the ball.

Arguably the biggest surprise of the Xavi era so far, however, has been Ousmane Dembele.

 

Almost perennially injured or underwhelming at Barca, Dembele became essential for Xavi's men in the second half of last season.

Between January 1 and the end of the campaign, Dembele's assists count of 11 was four more than anyone else in the league despite the Frenchman not even playing 1,100 minutes. Vinicius, for example, registered six from 1,182 minutes.

Granted, Dembele's assists tally outstripped his expected assists (xA), though his 7.3 xA was still comfortably better than everyone else over the same period – Vinicius was second with 4.5 xA.

Until he has an extended period without injury, Dembele's fitness and reliability will always be a concern, but Xavi has made it clear the winger is key to his plans, and the 25-year-old has certainly shown his commitment by signing a new contract on reduced terms. He wants to be a success at Barca.

New blood

Now, obviously this part comes with an asterix. Barca have made some impressive additions to their squad, but it remains to be seen whether they can register them in time for the opening weekend. They can only do that if LaLiga are happy their finances are in order and the club adhere to their salary limit.

But assuming Laporta finds a way to get the green light before the transfer window closes, the new faces should be considered statement signings.

The headline arrival is obviously Robert Lewandowski. Barca didn't necessarily have a problem scoring goals last season, but they were short of reliable options in the centre of attack, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang often occupying spaces out on the left.

 

Ferran Torres simply isn't a 'killer' in front of goal, Lewandowski is, and you don't need to go into any great detail to explain precisely what he'll offer; his 161 top-flight goals over the past five years is 30 more than any other player in the top five leagues (Lionel Messi is second with 131).

Among those charged with laying on chances for Lewandowski will be Raphinha, whose dynamism and exceptional creativity made him one of the standout Premier League wingers at Leeds United.

His ability to come inside onto his left foot will give Barca greater invention in central areas as well, potentially key against packed defences, and he's demonstrably a wonderful creator, with his 13.0 xA over two seasons in the Premier League bettered only by Trent Alexander-Arnold, Bruno Fernandes, Mohamed Salah, Mason Mount and Kevin De Bruyne – not bad for a player who was embroiled in a relegation battle last term.

 

Then you've got Kounde, who has not only marked himself out as one of LaLiga's best defenders in three seasons at Sevilla, but many consider him an archetypal Barca centre-back – in fact, his ability on the ball was best exemplified against the Catalans in the Copa del Rey last season, when he embarked on a brilliant solo run from defence before applying a cool finish.

 

Add Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen to the mix as well, and Barca have themselves an impressive array of signings who all appear well-suited to the club's particular brand of football.

When they'll all be able to play is still a mystery, but clearly Barca will be a force when they can.

 

Sergio Aguero would be surprised if Bernardo Silva leaves Manchester City for Barcelona, but believes the midfielder could play a key role in Xavi's rebuild if a move goes through.

Barca have signed Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie during a busy transfer window.

With Frenkie de Jong expected to leave Camp Nou, reports have suggested Portugal international Silva is Xavi's next target.

Silva made 50 appearances for City in all competitions last season, a tally only bettered only by Joao Cancelo (52), scoring 13 goals and providing seven assists.

Only Kevin de Bruyne (129) and Jack Grealish (78) created more chances for City than Silva's 76 last term, but he could be on the moving after stating the Premier League champions "know what I want" this week.

 

Aguero – a team-mate of Silva's before leaving City for Barcelona in 2021 – is unsure whether a move will materialise but believes the 28-year-old would suit Xavi's new-look side perfectly. 

"Bernardo is a great player. He carries the ball, he sacrifices, has quality to assist and score goals and he can play in different positions," Aguero told Stake.

"It would surprise me if City let him go. He is a player who contributes a lot every season, but everything is possible.

"If he finally arrives at Barca, then he will be someone who can be key to the possession game that Xavi likes."

Robert Lewandowski believes playing under Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich represented the ideal preparation for his move to Barcelona, as he compared Blaugrana boss Xavi to his former coach.

Guardiola was one year into a three-season tenure with the Bavarian giants when Lewandowski joined from rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2014, with the striker scoring 67 goals in 100 appearances under him in all competitions. 

Having ended his Bayern career with 344 goals in all competitions, Lewandowski – one of several new faces at Camp Nou – scored for the first time in Barca colours three minutes into Sunday's 6-0 friendly thrashing of Pumas UNAM.

As Xavi looks to lead Barca to a title challenge in his first full season at the helm, Lewandowski identified similarities between with Manchester City manager Guardiola.

"Guardiola's philosophy and his style of caring for and managing the team, I think, basically was Barca at Bayern Munich," Lewandowski told Sport.

"Xavi is very similar to Guardiola. They were both 'sixes', they worked together. They think about football in the same way.

"With that memory in mind, Barca was the only option for me, and it was a great preparation when I was there.

"I didn't talk to Guardiola before signing. But when I was with him at Bayern, it was like a great preparation to get to Barca one day. 

"All the staff were Spanish, there were eight Spanish players. During that period, I had a very good relationship with Thiago [Alcantara] and Javi Martinez. Both of them congratulated me when I signed for Barca."

Lewandowski made his desire to leave Bayern clear on several occasions before finalising a move to Camp Nou and has reiterated his €45million transfer was primarily motivated by a wish to test himself in Spain.

"I feel like a small child who enters a huge store of new toys," he said. "What I feel in Barcelona so far is pure happiness and motivation to start this new chapter.

"In Munich, I was missing new challenges. I won many titles and I recognise that I felt less and less intensity. I needed another challenge, a boost, a change of environment.

"I've always wanted to play in LaLiga, live in Spain, see what life is like here. Twelve years in Germany is a long time. 

"I achieved everything there. I didn't want to stand in front of the mirror in 12 years and say to myself: 'Why haven't you tried?' There would be a lot of unanswered questions."

Lewandowski will hope to make his competitive Barcelona debut when they host Rayo Vallecano in their LaLiga opener on Saturday, with president Joan Laporta confident the Blaugrana will be able to register their new arrivals despite ongoing financial concerns.

 

Frenkie de Jong appears likely to remain at Barcelona for this season, if the comments from club president Joan Laporta after their side's 6-0 pre-season win against Pumas are to be believed.

De Jong scored the sixth goal in the rout, coming off the bench at half-time and finding the net in the 84th minute.

He has been one of the main names featured in transfer rumours this off-season, with Barcelona's questionable finances making it seem like the club would have to part ways with the 25-year-old Dutch international to fund their sizeable moves for Leeds United winger Raphinha, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde.

However, having been outspoken about his desire to remain at Camp Nou, it now seems more likely he will not be sold during this transfer window, with Laporta saying before the match against Pumas that it is what both parties want.

"Frenkie is our player and we want him to stay at Barcelona," he said. "He wants to stay, too.

"With him and his teammates, we have a very powerful midfield. He has offers, but we want him to stay."

After the match, Xavi was less emphatic about De Jong's future when interviewed by TV3, but insisted that he's "counting on" the midfielder this season.

"I don’t know what will happen to Frenkie, as until August 31st anything can happen," he said.

"He knows what I think, and what the club want and need. Of course I’m counting on him, he’s a great player."

Barcelona will open their LaLiga campaign at home against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

Pedri described playing with Robert Lewandowski as a "luxury" after both players starred in Barcelona's 6-0 demolition of Pumas UNAM in the Joan Gamper trophy on Sunday.

The Blaugrana ran riot in their traditional Camp Nou curtain-raiser, with goals from Pedri (two), Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembele, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Frenkie de Jong condemning the Mexican side to a crushing loss.

Barca took just 20 minutes to establish a 4-0 lead as Pedri scored twice after laying on new signing Lewandowski's opener, with the Poland striker returning the favour to tee up the skilful midfielder's second strike.

Lewandowski – who scored 50 goals in all competitions during his final season with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich last term – was named as man of the match, leading Pedri to shower him with praise. 

"It was important for us to win in front of our fans and we have achieved it by playing a good game," the midfielder said.

"The coach asks us all to reach the top and that we score goals, and I hope it continues like this. We've had a good pre-season and we wanted to start scoring soon.

"It is a luxury to play with Lewandowski, I really enjoy seeing how he finishes and how he links up.

"The president [Joan Laporta] and everyone have done a great job, and we will fight until May for it to be a very beautiful year for us all."

With Lewandowski joining Franck Kessie, Andreas Christensen, Jules Kounde and Raphinha in moving to Camp Nou ahead of the 2022-23 season, hopes are high that Barca can challenge for silverware – even if speculation persists that they may be unable to register their newcomers.

For Xavi, the performance against Pumas – for whom Barca legend Dani Alves featured – represented the standard the Catalan giants must hit in every match.

"Everything went well tonight, I'm very happy with the good game and for the fans, who have been excited. This is the way," Xavi declared.

"We are in a good dynamic of play and results, but we have to continue working for this to work. The sensations are good, yes, but there is no need to lower the pace or the intensity during the 90 minutes.

"Today it is understood that we relaxed a bit because we were 4-0 very early and it was a friendly, but in official competition you cannot lower your guard."

Barca begin their LaLiga campaign at home to Rayo Vallecano next Saturday.

Barcelona coach Xavi is confident Robert Lewandowski will soon find his rhythm at the club, having failed to find the net in pre-season.

The Poland international is one of Barcelona's marquee additions for the 2022-23 season, joining from Bayern Munich, and arrives with an established reputation as one of Europe's deadliest finishers.

Goals have not come in preparation for the new season, but Xavi is not concerned and believes there have been some encouraging signs already.

"The positive is that he has had all those opportunities, I am sure he will mark them," he said following Barcelona's win against the New York Red Bulls.

"In training, they go in; today, they have not gone in. I am convinced that they will go in, I trust him. 

"It happened with Luis Suarez, Ferran [Torres] last year. He's going to have chances to score; tonight he's had them, that's the positive part."

There could yet be further transfer business at Camp Nou, as Frenkie de Jong continues to be of interest to Manchester United.

Xavi has insisted playing De Jong at centre-back in a previous friendly was not a "signal" he was to leave, although the coach has almost finalised plans for his first-team squad.

"I don't know if there will be more [signings], it all depends on the financial fair play and the finances," Xavi said. "There will be exits, and I've been clear about that.

"I think I'm 99 per cent sure about [the final squad list], and most players know, too. We have spoken to the players whose future we've decided."

Xavi has given a strong indication Barcelona will make a sensational move to sign Lionel Messi next year.

Barca boss Xavi stated earlier this week that it would be "impossible" for the Catalan giants to bring club legend Messi back to Camp Nou during this transfer window, given he is under contract with Paris Saint-Germain.

The Argentina captain joined PSG on a two-year deal last year after sensationally ending his 21-year stay with the Blaugrana, who could not afford to keep him.

Barca president Joan Laporta on Thursday declared that he thinks the LaLiga giants "will make this aspiration a reality" when asked about the prospect of signing Messi.

Xavi wants his former team-mate to return to Barcelona, but says it will not happen while he is contracted to the Ligue 1 champions.

He said: "Now he has a contract, it's a utopia, we're going to focus on this year. Obviously, I would like Leo's time at Barca not to end the way he did and for him to have one last chance to say goodbye as the best in history.

"Of course I would like to, yes, I would like it to happen, but he has a contract."

Xavi has been given great backing in the transfer market ahead of the 2022-23 season, with Barca splashing out on Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde

Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen have also arrived on free transfers and Xavi wants further additions.

He said: "Everything that is reinforced is good. I already said that there should be two players per position, more this year with the World Cup.

"We need footballers to compete and to be better. Yes, we want to reinforce ourselves more, the more the better."

Xavi has shown faith in the "different" Ousmane Dembele and Miralem Pjanic to play important roles for his sides, following Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Juventus on Tuesday.

Pjanic made a strong first appearance for the pre-season while Dembele scored a poised brace and performed well despite the result, reflecting the confidence shown in him since Xavi took over as Barcelona's head coach last November.

The 25-year-old's first of the night was a particularly impressive solo action, showing his trademark dexterity on a mazy dribble, wriggling his way past three Juve defenders before finishing from an acute angle.

The Barca boss demanded more consistency from the France international post-match, but is buoyed by both his talent and new-found enthusiasm after extending his contract.

"He has shown what he is capable of, making a difference from the right wing with one-on-two actions," Xavi said afterwards. "He is a different player, special and he gives us a lot.

"He has to make a difference, be more consistent, score more goals. I don't know Dembele from before but since I've arrived, I see him happy and he always tells me that he's involved in the project. I see him like that since November, that's why I insisted so much on to stay."

The 42-year-old also saved special mention for another polarising figure among Barcelona fans, Miralem Pjanic, who made his first appearance for the club upon returning from a loan spell at Besiktas.

When asked about the midfielder's performance, the similarly cerebral Xavi was effusive in his assessment.

"I liked it a lot," Xavi said. "He gives us a lot with the ball, he found the interiors very well. He has an exclusive vision of football in general, because there aren't many who see the game like that with their first touch.

"He always looks forward, looks very well for the pass to nine. He has played a great game."

Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic is hoping to kickstart his Camp Nou career after being given the opportunity to play under head coach Xavi, who he considers a "role model".

Pjanic's days at Barca appeared to be numbered when he was loaned to Besiktas last season, having struggled to hold down a starting spot upon arriving from Juventus in 2020.

Xavi has since replaced Ronald Koeman in the Barca managerial hotseat, however, and Pjanic appears to be part of the legendary former midfielder's plans for the coming season.

The 32-year-old featured in the recent friendly with Olot and is part of the Catalan giants' squad for their pre-season tour of the United States, though he did not play any minutes in Saturday's win against Real Madrid.

Pjanic still has two years to run on his contract and is excited to work with Xavi, who enjoyed a positive first six months in charge during the second half of last season to finish second in LaLiga.

"Xavi has always been a role model of a midfielder for me," Pjanic told reporters. "I have followed him with admiration. For me, he is one of the best midfielders of all time in the world, so working with him is very special.

"In the last two years, I have struggled with injuries, COVID-19, and went out on loan. But now it's different. I am convinced that I can get back to my best. I've been working with a physical trainer this summer."

Asked about his Barca future, Pjanic added: "I have a contract until 2024. This year we will be working with our new teacher Xavi. I hope it will be a very good season for the team and for me."

Barcelona face Pjanic's former club Juventus in their third pre-season outing at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Tuesday, before rounding off their tour of the USA against New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

 

Xavi acknowledged a Barcelona return for Lionel Messi is "impossible" at present but refused to rule out a reunion in future, as he rejected comparisons between himself and two legendary Blaugrana coaches.

Messi's 21-year association with Barcelona came to an end last August when he joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer amid the Catalan club's financial woes.

However, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner's six league goals during his debut campaign in Paris represented his worst such tally since he netted the same amount in LaLiga as an 18-year-old in 2005-06.

Messi has just one year remaining on his contract in the French capital – though an option exists for a further 12 months with PSG – and Barcelona president Joan Laporta said on Sunday he did not believe the Argentine's Barca story was over.

His former team-mate and current Barcelona coach Xavi, however, told a news conference such a move was unfeasible, at least for now. 

"He has a contract and it's impossible right now," Xavi said, looking ahead to Barca's friendly with Juventus in Dallas on Tuesday.

"Messi is the best footballer in the world and in history. President Laporta already said that Messi's story with Barca is not over, but now is not the time to talk about it."

 

On a personal level, Xavi has enjoyed success since returning to Barcelona as head coach last November, leading the side to a second-placed league finish after they had languished in ninth under predecessor Ronald Koeman.

Barca are now expected to challenge for silverware after acquiring the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha, but Xavi insists he does not seek comparisons with legendary Blaugrana bosses Pep Guardiola and Johan Cruyff. 

"I don't have the idea of equalling Pep, what I want is for Barca to win," he added.

"It's not a question of ego, I don't want to beat Pep or Johan or anyone. On the contrary, I have nurtured myself from them, I am a student of theirs. 

"My dream is to return Barca to the top of the world."

Despite their perilous financial situation, Barcelona have recruited heavily throughout the transfer window, and with Sevilla and France defender Jules Kounde reportedly also close to joining, their spending does not look likely to stop any time soon.

And Xavi believes the capture of Lewandowski demonstrates the lure of the Catalan giants, adding: "It's not for me, it's for the club. What I do is speak clearly with the players. 

"Everything adds up, but I would say that the club is the one that has strength, its greatness is a magnet for footballers. 

"People are excited to play at Barca, the fact that players of the stature of Lewandowski want to come proves it."

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