Lionel Messi is once again absent from the Barcelona squad for Sunday's LaLiga clash with Real Betis.

Messi returned to training this week following a calf problem, with the 32-year-old missing Barca's entire programme of pre-season friendlies due to Copa America commitments and his injury.

Although he got several days of training under his belt and appeared to be in fine form in video footage that came out of the sessions, it was reported Messi felt "discomfort" on Friday.

Coach Ernesto Valverde also urged fans to be patient in his pre-match news conference a day later, adamant Messi will not be risked if he is anything other than 100 per cent ready to feature.

As such, Messi has been left out of the squad for the visit of Betis, who left Camp Nou with a stunning 4-3 win last season.

There is a place in the selection for Ansu Fati, a 16-year-old winger who impressed in the UEFA Youth League in 2018-19.

Barca will be aiming to bounce back from their 1-0 opening-day defeat at Athletic Bilbao.

 

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde says Lionel Messi has to be 100 per cent fit if he is to feature against Real Betis on Sunday.

The 32-year-old missed the whole of Barca's pre-season programme with a calf injury and was not part of their squad for their opening LaLiga loss to Athletic Bilbao last weekend.

Messi – whose last competitive outing was for Argentina in the Copa America third-place play-off victory over Chile, a match in which he was controversially sent off – returned to training on Wednesday, but Valverde is unsure whether he will be fit for the visit of Betis.

Speaking at his pre-match media conference, Valverde said: "If he is not 100 per cent, he will not play."

If Messi does feature, he will likely line up alongside Antoine Griezmann in attack.

The €120million signing from Atletico Madrid struggled to make an impact in last weekend's disappointing defeat, with Luis Suarez's first-half injury leaving him isolated up front.

Valverde says he is improving all the time and expects the France forward to start firing soon if he is given the right service.

"He is better every day," the Barca boss said. "He has to participate a lot and last week he did not participate as we would have liked. 

"If he participates, he can be decisive, but we must help him."

Betis also opened their LaLiga campaign with a defeat last weekend – a 2-1 reverse to Real Valladolid – but Valverde is expecting a tough game at Camp Nou.

He added: "Betis are a team that have many options to allow them to be towards the top of the standings, but it is mandatory that we get all three points after losing last weekend."

Barcelona have a plan to land Neymar and the star forward's demands now appear to be known.

The Neymar saga is not yet over and it remains to be seen if the Brazil international will leave Paris Saint-Germain before the transfer window closes on September 2.

But Barcelona have a new plan to bring Neymar – who they sold to PSG for €222million two years ago – back to Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA HAVE NEYMAR PLAN AS STAR DEMANDS €35M PER SEASON

Barcelona have worked out a new formula to convince PSG to sell Neymar to them, according to Spanish newspaper Sport.

The LaLiga champions will offer cash and a player to the Ligue 1 giants this year and PSG can choose between either another player or more money in 2020, the report says.

Meanwhile, Neymar, 27, wants €35m net per season and a five-year deal, according to Spanish television show Jugones.

ROUND-UP

- Alexis Sanchez's possible move from Manchester United to Inter is developing slowly. The Serie A giants are confident of signing the attacker in the next few days amid talks about the division of Sanchez's wage, according to Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano.

- With Renato Sanches having left for Lille, Bayern Munich may be looking for a replacement. The Bundesliga champions remain interested in Espanyol midfielder Marc Roca, according to AS. However, Bayern want to pay €18m while the LaLiga side are hoping for Roca's release clause – €40m.

- Valencia are eyeing a move for Radamel Falcao after the Monaco striker ended talks with Galatasaray, reports AS. The Colombia international was heavily linked with a move to the Turkish giants, but Valencia may be looking for cover for Rodrigo, who could leave for Atletico Madrid.

- Also in Turkey, Rafinha is close to leaving Barcelona for Fenerbahce, according to O Jogo. Rafinha had been linked with a move to Valencia, but the 26-year-old could now be heading to Fenerbahce.

- Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has had few chances since joining PSG in 2018, but the forward has no plans to leave, according to L'Equipe. Lecce had been linked with a move for the Cameroon international.

Rodri could partner Sergio Busquets in a two-man midfield for Spain because of his "incredibly quality", according to national team boss Robert Moreno.

Manchester City's club-record signing has adjusted well since moving to the Etihad Stadium, starting the club's opening two Premier League matches.

The 23-year-old honed his playmaking abilities at LaLiga sides Villarreal and Atletico Madrid, with Rodri now considered a potential long-term national team successor to 31-year-old Barcelona mainstay Busquets.

Although they perform similar roles at club level, Spain boss Moreno thinks the deep-lying pair could work in the same side.

"Of course, if there is a match in which we consider that the opponent is good in the air, or that we need more physical players we will try, without losing our identity, to include the players that can improve us in that department," Moreno told El Pais.

"I think we now have players that have many characteristics.

"Rodri has incredible quality, but Fabian [Ruiz] too.

"We have Koke and Saul [Niguez], who were not part of the squad last time, but who can give us that touch football and also that aggressiveness they have with [Diego Simeone]. We also like to have that.

"Simeone's style, while not being the football that I propose, I love it."

Spain return to Euro 2020 qualifying action next month with games against Romania and Faroe Islands.

Moreno took charge on a permanent basis in June after Luis Enrique stepped down for family reasons.

Will they, or won't they?

Barcelona are trying to re-sign wantaway Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar before the transfer window closes on September 2.

LaLiga rivals Real Madrid are also interested, so this is set to go down to the wire.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA RENEWING NEYMAR EFFORTS

According to Sport, Barcelona are preparing a fresh offer to prise Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

Barcelona have already reportedly had an initial loan deal turned down by PSG, who are determined to recoup the world-record €222million fee they spent on Neymar in 2017.

Real Madrid, however, are still said to be determined to trump Barca to the signing of the Brazilian forward.

 

ROUND-UP

- Should Neymar be granted his wish to leave PSG, the Ligue 1 holders are reportedly considering a move for Juventus forward Paulo Dybala. That is according to Tuttosport, after Dybala had been linked to Manchester United and Tottenham prior to the Premier League's transfer window closing.

- Marca also reports goalkeeper Keylor Navas is close to leaving Real Madrid for PSG. Navas wants out after reportedly being told he will be Thibaut Courtois' understudy this season.

Manchester United will not make an offer for Fernando Llorente, according to the Daily Mail. Llorente is a free agent after leaving Tottenham and reports in Italy linked the Spaniard to Old Trafford following Romelu Lukaku's move to Inter. However, the Red Devils are reportedly not interested in the veteran.

Inter are close to signing full-back Cristiano Biraghi from Serie A rivals Fiorentina, reports Calciomercato. Biraghi was part of Inter's youth academy before moving on to the likes of Cittadella, Pescara and Fiorentina. Inter are said to be looking to include Dalbert in a swap deal for the Italy international.

Inter and United are continuing talks over Alexis Sanchez, claim Sky Sport Italia and Sportitalia. More discussions are reportedly planned, with United wanting Inter to cover more of the Chilean's salary during the proposed loan spell.

- According to The Telegraph, Leicester City midfielder Adrien Silva is poised to return to Monaco on loan. The Portugal international spent the second half of the 2018-19 season on loan at the Ligue 1 side. It comes after Sky Sport Italia reports AC Milan and Franck Kessie rejected Monaco's proposal for the midfielder.

Roma are weighing up a move for Atletico Madrid striker Nikola Kalinic, says Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio. After re-signing Edin Dzeko, Roma are reportedly considering Atletico fringe figure Kalinic if Patrik Schick and Gregoire Defrel leave.

Prising Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain is proving difficult.

After Barcelona had an offer turned down by PSG, LaLiga giants Real Madrid are the latest club to be rejected.

With the transfer window set to close on September 2, time is running out to meet PSG's demands.

 

TOP STORY – MONEY PLUS BALE, NAVAS AND JAMES NOT ENOUGH FOR PSG

Paris Saint-Germain have rejected €100million plus Real Madrid trio Gareth Bale, Keylor Navas and James Rodriguez for Neymar, L'Equipe claims.

After Barcelona's initial loan bid was turned down by PSG, Madrid tried to jump the queue, but it was not enough to satisfy the Ligue 1 champions.

PSG spent a world-record €222m on Neymar two years ago and it will take a lot more to sign the wantaway star as Barca and Juventus circle.

 

ROUND-UP

- Talk of Navas being included in a deal comes as Marca reports the Costa Rica goalkeeper has asked to leave Madrid after being told he will be back-up to Thibaut Courtois.

- Barcelona forward Luis Suarez is open to joining Inter Miami in MLS. Miami – owned by David Beckham – are set to enter the league in 2020 and they are keen to make a big-name signing. Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani has been linked, while Mundo Deportivo has now talked up Uruguay team-mate Suarez.

- According to Calciomercato.com and Corriere della Sera, PSG are interested in Paulo Dybala and Juventus team-mate Miralem Pjanic. Dybala has been tipped to leave the Serie A champions, while Pjanic could depart Turin as Juve look to raise funds following the arrivals of Matthijs de Ligt, Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot and Merih Demiral.

Atletico Madrid have no doubts that they will sign Rodrigo Moreno from Valencia, says Marca. Rodrigo will arrive once Angel Correa completes his protracted move to AC Milan.

Roma are in talks with Juve over a move for defender Daniele Rugani, claims Goal. Initially linked to Liverpool's Dejan Lovren after Kostas Manolas' switch to Napoli, Roma are now keen to bring in Rugani, who is valued at between €20-25m.

- The Sun reports Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea could wait until January before signing a new contract. The Spanish star has reportedly agreed in principal to extend his deal, which expires next year.

- Inter have accepted an offer from Napoli for former captain and outcast Mauro Icardi, according to Corriere dello Sport. However, Sky Sport Italia and Sportialia insist Icardi is not interested in moving to Napoli as he eyes Juve. With that in mind, Napoli are reportedly pushing to sign free agent Fernando Llorente.

Barcelona and Chelsea are leading the race to sign 16-year-old Las Palmas midfielder Pedri. That is according to Marca, which says Pedri could be available for €10m (£9m).

Ousmane Dembele "doesn't feel at all threatened" by the possibility of Neymar going back to Barcelona, the forward's agent has said.

Speculation persists over Neymar's future at Paris Saint-Germain, with the latest reports saying Barca have had a bid of a two-year loan with an option to buy rejected by the Ligue 1 champions.

Should the Brazil star secure a return to Camp Nou, though, it is likely to leave Dembele's position in the first team unclear, with the France international struggling for consistency and fitness since his move from Borussia Dortmund for an initial €105million in 2017.

However, his representative, Moussa Sissoko, says Neymar's future will have no impact on Dembele's determination to succeed with the Spanish champions.

"When you are a high-level sportsman, you have to accept that you are praised but also subjected to criticism," he told RMC Sport. "[Dembele] is focused on his goals, and he knows what he has to do in order to succeed at Barca.

"He doesn't feel at all threatened. When you play for Barca, you expect there to be competition. Neymar or anyone else - he does not care about that and [only] cares about what he has to do."

Sissoko says there has been interest in Dembele but that all those clubs, PSG included, have been told the player has no desire for a transfer.

"We received notice of interest from big clubs," he said. "But we were clear on the fact that he did not want to leave. I told them from the start that he wants to succeed at Barcelona. The door is closed, and Paris or any other club are aware of our intentions.

"In our plans, he wants to stay and all his work is towards that. We are working on that."

Dembele was diagnosed with a hamstring injury this week that is likely to keep him out for over a month, furthering suggestions his lifestyle is hampering his fitness and professional development.

His former chef told Le Parisien on Wednesday: "Ousmane is a good guy but he doesn't have control of his life. He lives with his uncle and his best friend, who don't dare say anything to him. It's a crazy life.

"I've never seen him drink alcohol but he doesn't respect his rest times, there's no professional structure around him."

However, when asked about those comments, Sissoko said: "I do not want to give an advertisement to the chef who criticised him. Ousmane chose him, and it's me who stopped working with him, because he didn't correspond to what we wanted."

Lionel Messi returned to full training with Barcelona on Wednesday as he nears a comeback from a calf injury.

The 32-year-old missed the whole of Barca's pre-season programme and was not part of their squad for the 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao on the opening day of the LaLiga season.

Messi – whose last competitive outing was for Argentina in the Copa America third-place play-off victory over Chile, a match in which he was controversially sent off – has been doing solo exercises to build up his fitness and sat out the LaLiga champions' first training session on Wednesday but was pictured with the rest of his team-mates later in the day.

Barca head coach Ernesto Valverde may now consider the Argentina international for selection against Real Betis on Sunday, with Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez already ruled out.

Dembele will miss the next five weeks with a hamstring injury and Suarez is out for an indefinite period after injuring his right calf in the shock defeat to Athletic.

Barcelona are officially making a move for Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain are set to reject their offer.

The Neymar saga is seemingly no closer to ending as the Brazil star looks to leave the Ligue 1 champions before the transfer window closes on September 2.

Barca are set to at least make a bid as they aim to get a deal done for their former star, but it will be rejected.

 

TOP STORY – PSG TO REJECT BARCELONA'S LOAN BID FOR NEYMAR

PSG have no interest in initially loaning Neymar to Barcelona, according to Le Parisien.

It was reported the bid from LaLiga's champions would be for a temporary move, but PSG want an outright transfer so they can find a replacement for the forward, amid reported interest in Juventus playmaker Paulo Dybala.

Barcelona are willing to accept a purchase option if €160million can be paid in instalments, according to Sport.

Meanwhile, the cover of Marca says Neymar is entering "Zone Florentino", referencing Real Madrid president Perez as Barca's rivals maintain hope of signing the 27-year-old.

ROUND-UP

- There could be plenty of movement at Barcelona late in the window. Juventus are discussing a potential swap deal to land Ivan Rakitic and see Emre Can head to Camp Nou, according to Tuttosport, which says the Catalans also put Luis Suarez on the table.

- One midfielder not leaving Turin is Blaise Matuidi. RMC Sport reports the France international will stay at Juventus amid links to PSG and Bayern Munich, with Can seemingly more likely to depart the Serie A champions.

- Mariano Diaz's future is uncertain. AS claims Mariano is not in Real Madrid's plans for this season, but no club has come close to meeting a €20m valuation of the forward.

- Franck Ribery is set to become a Fiorentina player. The former Bayern Munich star has agreed to a deal with the Serie A club, according to Sport Bild and Gianluca Di Marzio, with the Frenchman set to sign on Thursday.

- Amid reported interest from Manchester City and Manchester United, Jadon Sancho is said to be re-signing with Borussia Dortmund. The 19-year-old England international has sealed a £190,000-per-week long-term deal with Dortmund, according to the Daily Mail.

- Michy Batshuayi is not ready to give up on his Chelsea career. The Belgium striker wants to stay and fight for a place in Frank Lampard's team, according to the Evening Standard.

Ousmane Dembele is certain to remain with Barcelona despite interest from elsewhere, according to his agent.

Dembele, 22, has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga champions amid reports he could be included in a deal that would see Barca sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

However, the France attacker's agent, Moussa Sissoko, said Dembele would stay at Barcelona.

"Evolving in a club as prestigious and ambitious as FC Barcelona involves a competition that will advance and sublimate any player," Sissoko said in a widely reported statement on Tuesday.

"In any case, it is the point of view rooted in Ousmane's mind. He is Barcelona and he will remain 1,000 per cent with the firm desire to honour the colours of the club."

Dembele is set to miss five weeks for Barcelona – who suffered a 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao on Friday – after straining his left hamstring.

Injuries hampered Dembele's first season at the club after a €105million move from Borussia Dortmund in August 2017, while he scored 14 goals in 42 games in 2018-19.

However, Dembele is still hungry to deliver for Barcelona despite his injury woes, his agent said.

"I wanted to clarify firmly and definitively the situation of Ousmane Dembele. He does not plan to leave FC Barcelona for a moment," Sissoko said.

"This is the course of action fixed for several months now and no element is or will be likely to cause us to deviate. Ousmane feels perfectly well within the club and he remains in his determination to impose himself in the long term.

"Despite the solicitations of several great European clubs, Ousmane is convinced to be in the heart of the largest of them and everything is there to make it flourish.

"Ousmane is aware of what he has to do on a daily basis to make his Barcelona adventure a complete success. Unfortunately, his injury temporarily stops him in his motivation to make a great and beautiful season, symbolised by its anticipated recovery of a week.

"But this has no impact on his thirst for success and he is confident to return as soon as possible."

Neymar continues to dominate the headlines and Barcelona look set to finally get serious in a move for the Paris Saint-Germain star.

The Brazil international, 27, has been linked with a move from PSG, but progress has seemingly been slow amid links to Barca and Real Madrid.

It appears Juventus are now ready to join the race, too, as Barcelona prepare to submit an offer.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA TO SUBMIT NEYMAR BID

Barcelona have decided to submit a formal offer to PSG for Neymar, according to RAC1.

The cover of Sport reads 'Offer Offical' as Barcelona continue their pursuit of the star they sold to PSG for €222million two years ago.

They say Barca are hoping to get a deal done and have an option to buy Neymar next season.

 

ROUND-UP

- There may yet be a bit to play out in the Neymar saga. AS report Juventus have opened talks with PSG and are keen to sign the Brazil star, willing to offer Neymar the €37m per year net he currently makes at PSG.

- Paulo Dybala could be part of a Juventus move for Neymar. Dybala was reportedly close to a Premier League switch earlier this month and is valued at €80m and a target for PSG, according to Sport and the Daily Mail, giving the Ligue 1 champions an ideal replacement for Neymar.

- Christian Eriksen's Tottenham future remains unclear. However, ESPN FC report the Denmark international is only interested in moving to Barcelona, Real Madrid or Juventus if he leaves Tottenham.

- As Barcelona try to find a deal for Neymar, Nelson Semedo has been one of the players mentioned as part of a potential package. However, Marca report the defender does not want to go to PSG and Barca are aware.

- Roma are still trying to strengthen their defence and Arsenal's Shkodran Mustafi has emerged as a target, according to TuttoMercatoWeb. The Serie A giants would consider an initial loan move for the defender.

- Franck Ribery could be close to making a decision on his future. According to Fabrizio Romano, the former Bayern Munich star is in advanced talks with Fiorentina.

Ousmane Dembele is facing a spell on the sidelines after suffering another hamstring injury, Barcelona have confirmed.

The LaLiga champions expect to be without Dembele for around five weeks.

"A medical examination on Ousmane Dembele has diagnosed a strain of his left hamstring," a club statement read. 

"The Frenchman is set to be out for approximately five weeks as a result."

Dembele, 22, completed 90 minutes as Barca began their title defence with a 1-0 loss at Athletic Bilbao last Friday but has suffered wretched luck with injuries since moving to Camp Nou from Borussia Dortmund in 2017.

The €105million winger sat out most of the first half of his debut campaign in Catalonia due to a serious hamstring injury and this is now the fourth time he has been ruled out by a similar complaint.

Barcelona were without Lionel Messi against Athletic as the superstar forward steps up his recovery form a calf problem, while Dembele's compatriot Antoine Griezmann drew a blank on his Blaugrana debut.

Ernesto Valverde's side entertain Real Betis in the league this weekend.

Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic lead the names nominated for FIFA's Puskas Award, given to the scorer of the best goal of the season.

A panel of FIFA and external football experts selected 10 goals to put to a public vote, with the efforts ranging from the sublime to the outrageous.

Barcelona icon Messi is nominated for the fourth time in five years, while three female players are included after there were none up for the award last year.

All goals selected for consideration were scored between July 16, 2018 and July 19, 2019, and we have the low down on each one, with voting open until September 2…

 

Matheus Cunha (RB Leipzig) v Bayern Leverkusen – April 6, 2019

Brazilian midfield Cunha dazzled the Leverkusen defence in April's 4-2 win as he latched on to a pass in from the left, beat a defender with a pirouette and then found the net with a sumptuous chip.

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy) v Toronto – September 15, 2018

Ibrahimovic has always been synonymous with the extravagant. His goal in last year's 5-3 defeat to Toronto is up there with his best. The Swedish forward got on the end of Jonathan dos Santos' lofted throughball and, despite initially looking set to take it down on his chest, he spun and guided the ball into the net acrobatically. His penchant for martial arts was immediately noticeable from the finish.

 

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) v Real Betis – March 17, 2019

We have become so accustomed to Messi's brilliance that he makes the extraordinary seem normal, but his hat-trick clincher in March's 4-1 win at Betis was pure genius. After receiving a cut-back from Ivan Rakitic, he caressed a first-time chipped effort over Pau Lopez and in off the crossbar from about 18 yards when shooting through a crowded penalty area looked an impossibility.

 

Ajara Nchout (Cameroon Women) v New Zealand Women – June 20, 2019

Arguably the standout goal of the Women's World Cup was also a vital winner. With Cameroon being held to a 1-1 draw, Nchout – who also got her team's first – embarked on a mazy run, beating her marker twice with sharp turns before guiding a composed finish in to seal a late 2-1 win and book their place in the knockout phase of the competition.

 

Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria) v Napoli – September 2, 2018

Quagliarella went on to have the best season of his career at the ripe old age of 36 last term, scoring 26 times. We should have seen the early signs, as his first of the campaign was a truly special effort. Against his former club Napoli, Quagliarella met Bartosz Bereszynski's right-wing cross with an airborne back-heeled effort from 12 yards that left the goalkeeper helpless.

 

Juan Fernando Quintero (River Plate) v Racing Club – February 10, 2019

A former so-called 'wonderkid' who went off the boil before enjoying a resurgence, Quintero has had a fine couple of years. A playmaker with an eye for the spectacular, his free-kick against Racing in the 2-0 Superliga win in February was quintessential Quintero – from about 35 yards out on the right flank, his left-footed strike bent inside the top-right corner in a remarkable display of accuracy.

 

Amy Rodriguez (Utah Royals) v Sky Blue FC – June 16, 2019

After picking up possession inside her own half, Rodriguez cleverly side-stepped a defender and burst into the attack. She got to the final third and, sensing little support, let fly with a left-footed screamer that nestled in the top-right corner.

Billie Simpson (Cliftonville Ladies) v Sion Swift Ladies – August 9, 2018

A truly ridiculous goal. Straight from the opposing goal-kick, Simpson volleyed it right back in the opposite direction, catching it perfectly with a ferocious volley that caught the goalkeeper completely off guard.

 

Daniel Zsori (Debrecen) v Ferencvaros – February 16, 2019

Eighteen-year-old Zsori announced himself to Hungarian football in astonishing fashion in February. On his league debut, the attacker met a cross from deep with an overhead-kick just inside the area, picking out the top-far corner in stoppage time to secure a 2-1.

Bayern Munich asked retired Arjen Robben for permission before giving new signing Philippe Coutinho his old No.10 shirt and club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes the Brazilian is a worthy successor.

After a difficult 18-month spell with Barcelona, Coutinho completed a season-long loan move to Bayern on Monday, with the German champions able to make the switch permanent for €120million.

Bayern have been undertaking something of a rebuild in recent months, with various older players being moved on or retiring.

Chief among those are Franck Ribery and Robben, with the latter opting to hang up his boots after a 10-year spell at the club that saw him win 20 trophies.

Given their respective contributions to Bayern, Rummenigge confirmed they intended to leave the No.7 and No.10 jerseys unoccupied, but Robben gave permission for Coutinho to take his.

When asked about where Coutinho will play, Rummenigge told a news conference: "Hasan [Salihamidzic, sporting director] and Niko [Kovac, coach] have already agreed on all the tactical variants, and Hasan had a talk with Arjen Robben this morning.

"We did not want to give his number away for the time being, as a special gesture, but we also wanted to show how important and valuable this is.

"It was also a very important sign for Philippe that the club is also fully behind him, so Arjen has no problem at all, he wishes him all the best, and he is a more than worthy successor."

Coutinho could make his Bayern debut on Saturday when they travel to Gelsenkirchen to face Schalke in the Bundesliga.

Philippe Coutinho accepts his time at Barcelona "didn't work out" the way he had hoped after he completed a loan move to Bayern Munich on Monday.

Coutinho joined Barca from Liverpool in January 2018 in a deal potentially worth a reported €160million and things began promisingly, as he scored eight goals in his first 18 LaLiga games.

However, he struggled for consistency and failed to hold down a spot in the starting XI last season, playing only 22 matches from the beginning.

Coutinho became a scapegoat for fans and came in for increased criticism – as did coach Ernesto Valverde and team-mate Ivan Rakitic – after Barca's Champions League semi-final exit to Liverpool, despite them winning the first leg 3-0.

The Brazil international had been suggested as a potential makeweight in a deal to take Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain back to Camp Nou, but Bayern secured his loan signing with a €120m purchase option.

Coutinho acknowledges things could have gone better in LaLiga but insists he is excited to be joining the German champions.

"Concerning Barcelona, things didn't work out the way we wanted," Coutinho told reporters at his Bayern presentation.

"But that's the past. This is a new club, a big club, an important club. I hope I'll be here for a long time and win lots of titles."

Despite the difficulties Coutinho had at Barca, he is adamant it was not all a negative experience – though he had no doubts about leaving for Bayern.

"Within those years I did have great experiences," he said. "I learnt a lot, won a lot with that club and then we had the Copa America, which I won with Brazil and that was really important.

"Now I have a chance at a new club, a big club. I didn't have any doubts when Hasan [Salihamidzic, Bayern sporting director] called me.

"He really wanted me to come here, so they flew to Barcelona, we met, they showed me the project and that's why I really want to thank them, because from the first second [it was clear] how they see me. That was important for me to see."

Coutinho could make his debut away to Schalke on Saturday.

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