Barcelona, Clubs, Spanish Primera División, Story, Transfers


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BARCELONA, Spain — Ernesto Valverde has said Barcelona are looking to bring in a new striker in January after selling Munir El Haddadi to Sevilla.

Munir, whose contract was due to expire in the summer, joined Barca’s title rivals in a deal worth €1 million on Friday. His exit means Luis Suarez is now the only centre forward in Valverde’s squad.

Valverde has used Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele as false No. 9s in Suarez’s absence previously, while he has also suggested Arturo Vidal could play further forward, but he said he would prefer to add to the squad this month as Barca remain in the hunt for La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.

“With Munir leaving, we have space there, especially with the injury to Rafinha as well,” Valverde said in a news conference ahead of Sunday’s league game against Eibar. “The [transfer] window is open and we are going to see if we can sign someone — [but] we have to keep in mind the financial side of any deal.

“We will see if anyone comes in and if not we will look to the players we have in the B team.”

Barca have been searching for a long-term replacement for Suarez, who turns 32 this month, for a while now, but sources have told ESPN FC any January deal is more likely to be on a short-term basis.

Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata, who has been offered to the club through an intermediary, and Tottenham’s Fernando Llorente are two options being mentioned in the local media. Valverde said it is important that whoever comes in is able to hit the ground running.

“I don’t know,” he said when asked what type of striker he would like to sign. “In these circumstances, someone, if they do come, who can adapt quickly, as is the case with [defender Jeison] Murillo, who’s come in [on a six-month loan from Valenca] and played immediately.

“That’s the important thing: that they know how this [club and league] works and can play straight away. If no one comes in, though, we will move forward with what we have.”

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde watches on during the Copa del Rey clash with Levante
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde watches on during the Copa del Rey clash with Levante.

Valverde suggested one player he isn’t thinking of playing through the middle is Philippe Coutinho, who has struggled for game time in recent weeks.

The Brazil international, the club’s record signing, has started the last four league games on the bench after losing his place to Dembele, which has prompted rumours of a return to England, with Manchester United linked.

“Coutinho has had great games and we hope he keeps having them,” Valverde said. “We all have to improve.

“I focus on the good things he does — as I did with Dembele when he wasn’t playing. They could play together, it’s possible. They’re not playing together much at the moment but we will see in the future.”

Barca moved five points clear at the top of La Liga last weekend and will look to maintain their lead when they host Eibar at Camp Nou this weekend.



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