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.

"FC Barcelona has relieved Ronald Koeman of his duties as first team coach," a club statement read.

"The president of the club, Joan Laporta, informed him of the decision after the defeat against Rayo Vallecano. Ronald Koeman will say goodbye to the squad on Thursday at the Ciutat Esportiva.  

"FC Barcelona wishes to thank him for his service to the Club and wishes him all the best in his professional career."

Koeman had endured a strained relationship with club president Joan Laporta since the former's election.

When elected in March, Laporta made it clear that Koeman was not a part of his long-term plans and the relationship has deteriorated from then on, despite suggestions at one point of a new contract for the Dutchman.

Barca will face Alaves in LaLiga on Saturday as they bid to salvage their position in the table without Koeman.

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."

Ex-Liverpool left-back Jose Enrique claims that former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has "destroyed" the Catalan club.

Barca find themselves in difficult financial circumstances, with six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi forced to join Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer after the Blaugrana were unable to provide him with a new contract.

The Blaugrana have won just one trophy – a Copa del Rey – in the last two seasons and have not started their first campaign without Messi in 16 years well, sitting bottom of their Champions League group and winning just three of their first seven LaLiga games.

Jose Enrique believes the dramatic decline of a once-formidable club is down to a string of poor decisions from the hierarchy and points the finger primarily at Rosell, who served as Barca president from 2010 to 2014.

"Well, I think, with a completely open heart and honestly, I think Sandro Rosell has just destroyed this club," Jose Enrique told Stats Perform. 

"It is destroyed, economy-wise. [New Barca president Joan] Laporta is obviously taking everything now because obviously, it's anyone and everyone asking him for answers. But it's true that he arrives to a club that is very, very in debt with a lot of players on a lot of money."

 

The one-time Liverpool and Newcastle United defender was particularly scathing about Barca's activity in the transfer market over the last few years under the presidency of Josep Maria Bartomeu, who replaced Rosell in 2014 before stepping down in 2020.

"[Luis] Suarez, look what they did to him," Jose Enrique continued. "You sign [Antoine] Griezmann who really is not even half of the player that Suarez is. That's what it is. So, they do a lot of strange things.

"They go out and buy [Ousmane] Dembele for 100 million. They do a lot of stuff. I remember when they signed [Philippe] Coutinho, and I love Coutinho. But they play him as a left winger as well. When actually, he's more a midfielder or number 10.

"So, they've been doing so many things wrong for many years, and now they are taking [the consequences]. They lose Messi, who obviously is the standout player of this club. He was, he’s not anymore.

"Now they are struggling, and I believe to get back to their best is gonna take a while. I don't know how long, depends on their spending, depends how much income they have, because obviously, they have to get rid of a lot of players.

"Again, for example, [Miralem] Pjanic. When they signed Pjanic, they [sent] away Arthur Melo and you're giving away the player that Messi actually says is the closest player he's seen to Xavi. And that he's 23, and you take Pjanic who is 30.

"It's a strange thing, and you have to say, "why are these things happening?"

"Obviously, I don't want to blame anyone, but I'm sure there's been things behind [the scenes] that are still being discovered.

"When the club is struggling it is because something is going wrong behind [the scenes], that’s reality. And that's why Barcelona is in the situation it is right now because they've been doing things wrong. Simple as that."

Ronald Koeman is grateful to have been given "clarity" over his Barcelona future after president Joan Laporta confirmed the under-fire head coach will remain in charge of the beleaguered club.

Former Netherlands boss Koeman was widely reported to be on the verge of being sacked by Barca this week, with Saturday's trip to Wanda Metropolitano set to be his final game.

The Dutchman appeared to accept his fate when speaking to reporters at a pre-match news conference on Friday as he hit out at Laporta for failing to inform him face-to-face.

However, Laporta clarified ahead of Barca's clash with Atletico on Saturday – which ended in a 2-0 loss – that Koeman's position was not under threat regardless of the scoreline.

After being given a reprieve, the 58-year-old is already preparing for Barca's next batch of fixtures after the two-week international break.

"The conversation I had [with Laporta] over the phone last night was very good," Koeman said after the defeat to Atleti.

"We also spoke this morning about the squad, the club and other things. At least now there is some clarity in that sense. It's important for the dressing room that there is clarity. 

"But we are Barcelona, and now we have to start winning games. The pressure exists for any coach, particularly at Barcelona. After the break, we have three games we must win.

"We have spoken together and the president has made his decision."

 

Asked if he would have liked Laporta's backing sooner, Koeman said: "I think so, but we must highlight that it has now been said, and it will bring us tranquillity."

Laporta's public support came on the back of a run of one win in five games in all competition, which has now been extended by a further match following defeat to Atleti. 

Luis Suarez teed up Thomas Lemar for the opener and then tucked away the second himself before half-time to condemn his former side to their first league loss since May.

With that clinically taken goal, Suarez has now netted against all 31 of the teams he has faced in LaLiga, scoring 172 goals in total.

Barca had the whole of the second half to respond but managed just two attempts on target, only one of which – a Philippe Coutinho one-on-one – seriously troubled Jan Oblak.

"I'm sad about the result, but we were good in parts of the game," Koeman said. "We also let ourselves down, especially for the first goal.

"We talked before the game about how to defend. They have a lot of depth, but we failed to defend and 1-0 is a complicated scoreline.

"At times we could have done more damage. At two goals down against a team like Atletico, it is very complicated. We had the Coutinho chance, but that's it.

"We could not create much. We have to recognise that creating against Atletico is not easy. You have to play very well as they have a lot of defensive strength.

 

The Catalan giants are ninth in LaLiga after seven matches, five points adrift of leaders Real Madrid, who they face later this month after the visit of Valencia.

"There is a solution to our problems," said Koeman, who has not won any of his three games against Diego Simeone in LaLiga (D1 L2).

"But that solution is not from today to tomorrow. We have to work hard and give time to the youngsters. I also hope we will be able to recover injured players soon."

Joan Laporta says under-pressure head coach Ronald Koeman will stay on as head coach regardless of Barcelona's LaLiga result at Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

Koeman was reported to be on the brink of the sack following a 3-0 Champions League defeat at Benfica on Wednesday.

The cash-strapped Blaugrana are bottom of Group E after they were beaten by the same scoreline at home by Bayern Munich and headed into the weekend occupying seventh spot in LaLiga.

Club legend Xavi, Roberto Martinez and Erik ten Hag have been linked with the Barca job, with Koeman coming under increasing scrutiny.

Barca president Laporta revealed Koeman will remain in the role even if his side are beaten by Diego Simeone's champions.

"Koeman will stay on as head coach regardless of the result. He will stay. He deserves a margin of confidence. He loves Barça, he's a reference point. I have spoken to him and I have drawn my conclusions. He took over Barça at a difficult time," Laporta said.

"He may have had moments of discouragement but he has recovered his spirits. After talking to him, I can see that he has confidence in this team, especially as soon as he has the injured players back. From then on, we will have more room for manoeuvre.

"We have not had a cold relationship. It's a good and honest relationship. He's a good person, he thinks the same about me and we’re all trying to turn things around for the better."

 

Koeman stated in a press conference on Friday that he has not spoken to Laporta amid speculation over his future.

"The club hasn't told me anything, really," the former Netherlands boss said at a news conference on Friday previewing his side's clash with Atletico.

"I found out that the president was here this morning but I didn't see him. We were training but I'm still the same. 

"I have ears and eyes and I already know that a lot of things leak. Surely it's true but to me, once again, he has not said anything to me.

"I am not the most important thing, but the team. I am here for the love of the club. I came here during a complicated situation – more complicated than the first day.

"Everyone has their opinion but I am only interested in the players and the Atletico game."

Ronald Koeman seemingly accepted that his time as Barcelona head coach is up but has questioned whether his replacement will do a better job with the players available.

Wednesday's 3-0 loss to Benfica – making it back-to-back defeats to begin a Champions League campaign for the first time in Barca's history – has upped the pressure on Koeman.

Amid a run of one win in five matches in all competitions, reports from Spain on Friday suggest this weekend's trip to Atletico will be the Dutchman's last in charge.

Barca president Joan Laporta is said to have made the decision in the wake of the heavy loss in Lisbon and a replacement will reportedly be brought in during the international break.

While Koeman has yet to discuss his future with Laporta, the ex-Netherlands boss admits the reports in the Spanish and Catalan press are telling.

"The club hasn't told me anything, really," he said at a news conference on Friday previewing his side's clash with Atletico. 

"I found out that the president was here this morning but I didn't see him. We were training but I'm still the same. 

"I have ears and eyes and I already know that a lot of things leak. Surely it's true but to me, once again, he has not said anything to me.

"I am not the most important thing, but the team. I am here for the love of the club. I came here during a complicated situation – more complicated than the first day.

"Everyone has their opinion but I am only interested in the players and the Atletico game."

 

Luis Enrique and Roberto Martinez, in charge of Spain and Belgium respectively, ruled themselves out of the running to replace Koeman this week.

A number of other high-profile names have been linked, but Koeman – who saw Lionel Messi depart for Paris Saint-Germain in August – feels the situation will remain the same.

"I don't know if another coach would be able to get more out of this side," he said. "There are a lot of young players here.

"There's been talk about the system, but that's because players are unavailable. There are no wingers. The job of the coach is to work with the players available.

"If I had a bag of money, I would still have Messi here and other players alongside him. If we recover attacking players, we can have a strong and young squad."

Jordi Cruyff, who was appointed as a sporting advisor by Barca in June, is another who has been tipped to succeed Koeman in the coming days or weeks.

"I talk to Jordi every day," Koeman said. "But what we talk about stays between us. From the first day he told me he was not going to take over as the club's coach."

 

Koeman has been under pressure since the end of last season and the 58-year-old has regularly had to defend his position.

"I'm tired of doing that," he said when asked to highlight the work he has done in his 14 months at the helm.

"We have done important things during a period of change. One day I will speak and say what I think."

Asked for his best and worst moments in charge, Koeman said: "It seems I'm out but the best was signing for the club, the worst was Messi's departure."

Koeman's immediate focus is on the match with Atletico, who have beaten Barca just once in their last 11 league meetings in the Spanish capital.

A victory for the Catalan giants would move them above the champions in the table, though Koeman is expecting another tough test.

"We are sides with different styles, but they both lead to winning many things," he said. "They were deservedly champions last season.

"It's difficult to create chances against them. They are great at defending their area and you have to be very good with the last pass. Only by scoring can you beat them."

Young midfielder Pedri and full-back Jordi Alba have both been ruled out of the match through injury.

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