Barcelona are looking to strengthen their defence in the transfer market after club president Joan Laporta claimed they had seen off competition from Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain for Robert Lewandowski.
The Catalan giants have made several additions as Xavi bids to better last season’s second-placed league finish, acquiring Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen, Leeds United’s Raphinha and Bayern Munich great Lewandowski.
Barca finished some 13 points behind rivals Real Madrid last season, although that represented an achievement of sorts with the Catalan giants having sat ninth in LaLiga when Xavi replaced Ronald Koeman.
In an interview with Hristo Stoichkov for TUDN during Barca’s pre-season tour of the United States, Laporta said their business is not yet complete.
“Now we are going to work on the defence,” Laporta said. “Xavi has us oriented with a series of players and I hope that the Catalans will have new joys, because the Catalans like Lewandowski.
“This team gives you a guarantee of work, it gives you a guarantee that the players have a profile that is hungry, and we are trying to ensure that they have a better environment.
“Xavi knows what the fans want, so that when we go to the stadium we have a good time and see that genuine style, playing football with maximum expression and also with goals.
“Verticality, pressure, possession, control of the ball, all this Xavi wants to implement at its maximum expression.”
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Barcelona have been strongly linked with moves for Chelsea duo Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso after boasting just the sixth-strongest defensive record in LaLiga last season, conceding 38 goals (more than Sevilla, Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad and Villarreal).
Meanwhile, 12 teams in the Spanish top flight bettered Barca’s tally of 11 clean sheets last season.
The signing of Lewandowski, who scored 50 goals in all competitions during his final season with Bundesliga champions Bayern, represents the biggest coup of the transfer window for Barcelona, and Laporta claims they were not the only party pushing hard to sign him.
“We made a first offer and it ended at 45 [million euros], plus five. It’s within our possibilities, the player has also adjusted his salary to be within our possibilities and the Catalans are now very happy”, Laporta added.
“We have competed with teams like PSG and Chelsea, and the player wanted to come to Barca. This is what I like.
“As Johan [Cruyff] said, ‘I want players who want to come to Barca’, and we have to thank him because he has been earning less and enduring great pressure from Bayern, for whom I have great respect.
“Barca needs, like any great team, a goalscoring striker. He is a goalscoring machine gun.
“This player has been awarded the golden boot several times, if you look at his record he guarantees a goal, and every great team needs a striker who guarantees you goals.
“I think that Johan would like Lewandowski – he is a goalscoring striker, different from others we have had.
“Also, with [Ousmane] Dembele, Raphinha, Ferran Torres, who for me is a player who has a goal and has a lot of potential, all of them and Ansu [Fati], [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang – it’s going well, it’s progressing very well, we have a forward [line] with guarantees of putting on a show and scoring goals.
“I want Barca to become a world reference again. In the economic sphere, we are recovering the club, we are achieving it, although we have to work more.
“But the football side of things does not wait and I think we are doing a good job.”