Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman admitted he is worried about the stuttering club following their equal worst LaLiga start.

Barca equalled their worst tally of LaLiga points after six games since the Spanish competition reverted to three points for a win following Saturday's 1-1 draw at 10-man Deportivo Alaves.

Antoine Griezmann cancelled out Luis Rioja's opener with 27 minutes remaining to salvage a point for Barca, who have just eight points to already be as many points adrift of defending champions and bitter rivals Real Madrid.

Barca – who languish in 12th place amid a four-match winless streak in LaLiga – have the same total of points as they managed at the start of the 2002-03 campaign under Louis van Gaal.

"I'm worried by our performance in attack," Koeman – in his first season at the helm after replacing Quique Setien – said. "It's not an attitude problem, nor concentration, but it's a question of being more assured in front of goal.

"It happened to us against Juventus and today as well. Furthermore, we gifted Alaves their goal. But if we create that many chances, we can't miss so many. If you create chances and you only score one, it's not good.

"Of course I'm worried that we've only picked up two points from the last 12 [available]. I think the play has been, in general, very satisfactory. I'd be more worried if we weren't creating chances.

"We have to perform better in front of goal. The final pass, the final shot. We can't miss so many [chances]. We're missing too many."

Lionel Messi's struggles also continued – the superstar Barca captain has now gone 877 minutes without scoring in open play.

Messi's last open-play effort came against Napoli in the Champions League back in August, although he has scored three penalties and one free-kick since then.

Koeman made three changes at half-time, introducing Miralem Pjanic, Pedri and Trincao for Sergio Busquets, Clement Lenglet and Ousmane Dembele following Rioja's 31st-minute opener.

"I wasn't happy with the first half," said Koeman. "I made three changes because I wasn't happy and there were some players on a yellow card.

"If you criticised me the other day for making changes too late, today I made changes at half-time. I wasn't happy with our first half and there were people on the bench with the capability of scoring. I wanted to change things to win the game."

Antoine Griezmann says Barcelona's players were furious with themselves after a 1-1 draw at Deportivo Alaves in LaLiga on Saturday.

Barca failed to come up with a winner despite playing the majority of the second half with an extra man.

A goalkeeping mistake by Neto allowed Luis Rioja to give Alaves the lead before Jota was shown a second yellow for a dangerous high kick on Gerard Pique.

France striker Griezmann equalised soon after with a classy finish, but the Blaugrana could not find a way past Fernando Pacheco in the Alaves goal.

Pacheco's seven saves were more than any other goalkeeper has made in a LaLiga game against Barca this season.

"We are angry, and angry because we wanted the three points," Griezmann said in a media conference afterwards.

"We are failing a lot in front of goal, I am the first. We have had many chances, but we have only scored one.

"We have to work to improve. The team needs my goals and I try to improve on that."

The result meant Barca lost further ground on Real Madrid and are now eight points behind the leaders in 12th place.

It also ensured have equalled their joint-worst start to the season since LaLIga changed to three points for a win - Barcelona also had eight points after six games in 2002-03.

Although Griezmann said nobody at the club has started to panic.

"We must improve and with work it will be like that. We need calm because the campaign is long," added Griezmann.

"We still have a lot to improve. We have to work towards Wednesday's game against Dynamo Kiev now and try to win."

Barcelona have equalled their worst tally of LaLiga points after six games since the competition reverted to three points for a win. 

Ronald Koeman's side drew 1-1 with Deportivo Alaves on Saturday, meaning they have just eight points so far in the early stages of the 2020-21 season. 

That is the same total as Barca managed at the start of the 2002-03 campaign when another Dutchman, Louis van Gaal, was in charge. 

The Blaugrana are currently languishing in 12th place – already eight points behind LaLiga leaders and reigning champions Real Madrid.

It has also been a difficult start to the campaign for  Lionel Messi too, as he has now gone 877 minutes without scoring in open play. 

The Argentina international's last open-play effort came against Napoli in the Champions League back in August, although he has scored three penalties and one free-kick since then.

Antoine Griezmann salvaged a point for Barcelona as their struggles in LaLiga continued with a disappointing 1-1 draw against 10-man Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.

Visitors Barca, who had lost their prior two league matches, fell behind in the first half after a goalkeeping blunder by Neto allowed Luis Rioja to open the scoring.

Alaves had Jota sent off for a second bookable offence just after the hour mark, however, and the Blaugrana quickly equalised with a fine finish from France striker Griezmann.

But Ronald Koeman's side could not forge a decisive second despite late pressure, instead seeing their winless LaLiga run extended to four matches as they languish down in 12th.

Ronald Koeman had his eye on the past, present and future of Barcelona as he lauded Diego Maradona but said it was wrong to draw comparisons with modern-day great Lionel Messi.

The Dutchman is also focused on players who will enrich Barcelona for a new generation, offering advice to Ansu Fati and Pedri as the teenage duo make their mark at Camp Nou.

Maradona turned 60 on Friday and his overall impact on Barcelona during an often-chaotic two-year spell from 1982 to 1984 was such that he is fondly remembered.

Barcelona sent birthday greetings to the player who also scaled great heights with Napoli and Argentina and has now seemingly settled into coaching with Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata in his home country.

Maradona was widely considered the greatest player of his generation, while debate persists over which of Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo merits that mantle in this era.

As head coach at Barcelona, Koeman predictably sides with Messi, but he says the club's all-time record scorer and Maradona played in such different times it is difficult to judge who has been the greater.

When asked about Maradona, Koeman said: "In his time he was the best player. Today, for me, Messi is the best player."

Koeman and Maradona were peers, both playing at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups.

"You cannot compare the football of our time with the football of today," Koeman said. "Today it is more physical and more intense, it has changed a lot."

Koeman's legacy as coach at Camp Nou may be in priming the likes of teenagers Fati and Pedri for long and successful careers with Barcelona.

Fati turns 18 on Saturday, while 17-year-old Pedri has his birthday in November.

Both have the backing of Koeman, who has not shied away from using them in Barcelona's biggest games recently.

He started with the duo in El Clasico last weekend, with Fati scoring Barcelona's goal in a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid. Pedri was then in the XI for the Champions League clash with Juventus on Wednesday, and Fati came on midway through the second half as the Blaugrana scored a morale-boosting 2-0 victory.

With four goals in his opening five LaLiga games this season, Fati is outshining even Messi, who has netted just once.

The Spain international has taken the two goalscoring opportunities defined by Opta as big chances for a 100 per cent record – a drastic early improvement on last season's 14.3 per cent in that regard.

His dribbling success is also nudging in the right direction, from 43.1 per cent in 2019-20 to 47.4 this term.

Pedri has only made two starts in LaLiga so far, but an 85.7 per cent passing accuracy rate is something for the former Las Palmas midfielder to build on, at a club where Sergio Busquets and former midfield lynchpin Xavi have in seasons gone by topped the 90 per cent mark.

Koeman says both can improve different aspects of their game, adding: "I tell everyone to enjoy the moment. It is not normal for two 17-year-old boys to play at this level.

"The advice to them is to be humble and work hard because a career is very long. These players that I have seen in these two, three months are very good people, they know what they have to do and they are training to improve.

"We are here to help them improve and enjoy their game and to be able to be with people like Messi, Busquets and other players."

Koeman and Fati have spoken this week about the forward's concentration, with the coach believing that to be a slight weakness in his game, explaining: "He is a great talent and we have to help him improve things. You have to be prepared every day to improve."

Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font wants to lure Pep Guardiola back from Manchester City and vowed to keep Lionel Messi at the club.

Josep Maria Bartomeu quit as president at Camp Nou on Tuesday, ahead of a vote of no confidence against his leadership, along with the entire board of directors.

Following Bartomeu's decision to quit it has been reported Barcelona's presidential elections will be held in the second week of January, with Font tipped to be one of the frontrunners.

Font, 48, claimed that if he wins the vote he will seek to bring Guardiola back as head coach, get other big-name ex-players involved, and ensure Argentina international Messi stays.

Guardiola enjoyed a trophy-laden spell in charge of Barcelona between 2008 and 2012, winning LaLiga three times and the Champions League trophy twice.

Messi, meanwhile, had expressed a desire to leave Barca in August only to reverse his decision to avoid a legal dispute, but his contract is set to expire at the end of the 2020-21 season.

Font told Sky Sports: "It is our intention to build a very strong and competitive project and we are very lucky at Barca that we inherited a style of play that Johan Cruyff instilled throughout the organisation.

"And most of the best professionals who know about this style are also fans and love the club - like Pep Guardiola, Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta, [Carles] Puyol.

"They are all legends that love Barcelona but do not work for Barca today - we need to bring them back to ensure we will have a very competitive project.

"The only thing Messi needs is to know he is part of a competitive project that aspires to win the next Champions League.

"We have no doubt that if we basically have the honour to take the helm of Barcelona, we will be able to achieve that."

Barcelona are currently 12th in LaLiga after a slow start to the season under new boss Ronald Koeman, who was only appointed as Quique Setien's successor in August.

Lionel Messi may yet remain at Barcelona.

Messi, 33, stunningly requested to leave the LaLiga giants during the close season but ended up staying at Camp Nou.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has still been expected to leave at the end of his contract next year.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA'S CHANCES OF KEEPING MESSI BOOSTED

The resignation of president Josep Maria Bartomeu has boosted Barcelona's chances of keeping Messi beyond 2021, according to The Telegraph.

Messi has spent his entire professional career at Barcelona, winning 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues among numerous other trophies.

Manchester City and Inter have been most heavily linked with a move for Messi.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United sent a scout to watch RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano against Nurnberg in the DFB-Pokal last month, according to Bild. Upamecano has been linked with United previously and played 90 minutes as the Premier League side thrashed RB Leipzig 5-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday.

- With Virgil van Dijk injured, could Liverpool be eyeing Bayern Munich defender David Alaba? The Daily Star reports the Premier League champions were handed a boost in their prospects of a January transfer for Alaba after the defender's contract talks with Bayern collapsed. Alaba is out of contract next year.

- Manchester United, Barcelona and Juventus could be set for a transfer battle. The Mirror says United have joined Barcelona and Juventus in becoming interested in Ajax's 18-year-old midfielder Ryan Gravenberch.

- Inter may be in the market for a left wing-back in January. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A giants may look at Chelsea duo Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri, two players they have been linked with previously.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi is the Harry Potter of football, according to Christian Vieri.

Messi assisted Ousmane Dembele's deflected opener and converted a late penalty as Barcelona recorded a 2-0 win over Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner made a game-high five key passes and 65 passes in the opposition half as Barca improved to six points in Group G.

Vieri, who won Serie A with Juve in 1996-97 and was a 49-time Italy international, lauded Messi's contribution in Turin.

"An amazing Barcelona, there was no game. They could've scored six, seven goals easy. They played fantastic," he told CBS Sports.

"Messi is a magician, he's the Harry Potter of soccer and when he stops playing, I'm throwing my TVs away. I'm not going to work no more on TV, I'm going to watch Netflix, that's it, because when he stops there's nothing else to watch."

Since Messi's first Champions League campaign in 2004-05, only Cristiano Ronaldo (38) has provided more assists in the competition than his 35.

The Argentina international helped Barca dominate as Juve – who had Merih Demiral sent off in the 85th minute – failed to record a shot on target in a Champions League home game for the first time since 2003-04 – when Opta have such data available.

Juventus forward Alvaro Morata incredibly had three goals ruled out for offside during the encounter.

Vieri was impressed by Barcelona's performance, saying: "It's just another football, another game.

"I don't know how they lost against Real Madrid, but if you see them [against Juventus] you're going to say they can't lose against anyone this year, it's impossible the way they played.

"Every game is different but the Barcelona I saw and everyone saw it's just incredible. When you've got a number 10 like that, it's just crazy.

"It's a pity there are no fans here because the fans should be seeing a team like this."

Sitting 12th in the LaLiga table, Barcelona visit Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.

Two teams struggling to impress under respective club legends met in Turin on Wednesday, and without Juventus' star player on show, it was Ronald Koeman's Barcelona who came out on top.

A 34th meeting between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in club football was put on hold due to the latter's latest coronavirus test result, and Andrea Pirlo's side paid the price in a clash that was short of quality.

There were moments. Ousmane Dembele's opener, albeit fortuitous, came at the culmination of a fine run from the winger. On Barca's opposite flank, teenager Pedri shined and Messi showed flashes of brilliance.

At the other end, Alvaro Morata displayed neat finishing, only to see all three of his strikes disallowed, yet Merih Demiral's dreadful second-minute pass ultimately summed up a dismal Juve performance – his late red card compounding the hosts' misery.

Messi netted his 70th group-stage goal to wrap up the victory from the penalty spot, as Barca won in Turin for the first time.

JUVE MISS RONALDO'S EDGE AS MESSI LEADS BARCA

Ronaldo remains in isolation due to what he labelled as "bull****" coronavirus protocols, and without him, the Serie A champions have looked decidedly ordinary.

From the four games Ronaldo has missed since testing positive for COVID-19, Pirlo's team have managed just one win, against Dynamo Kyiv in their Group G opener.

In his 33 club meetings with Messi, Ronaldo has scored 18 goals and provided one assist, creating 19 chances and claiming nine wins.

Though those statistics do not compare favourably to Messi – who has scored 21 times, created 10 goals and crafted 60 opportunities – Juve's reliance on Ronaldo has become clearer in his absence.

Juve have now lost five of the 17 games, across the Serie A and Champions League, Ronaldo has not featured in since the start of the 2018-19 season, winning nine, scoring 26 goals and conceding 17.

With Ronaldo missing, Juve needed Paulo Dybala to step up but, playing in the same central role in a 4-2-3-1 as his opposite number, he went into hiding, having only two shots and failing to create any chances.

The same could not be said of Messi, whose assist for Dembele was his 35th in the Champions League, while the 33-year-old boasted game-highs in key passes (five) – more than any Barca player in any game this season – and shots (four).

KOEMAN FINDS A SPARK AFTER BARTOMEU QUITS

Saturday's Clasico defeat to Real Madrid proved to be the final game of the Josep Maria Bartomeu era at Barca, with the club president – and the entire board of directors – resigning on Tuesday.

Though it was far from a vintage display, and one which might not be good enough against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City or holders Bayern Munich, Barca did what they needed to in Turin.

Leaving the evergreen Messi to one side, Koeman can also look to impressive displays from Dembele, Pedri and Miralem Pjanic, who made his presence felt against his former club.

Pjanic made 82 passes, second only to Messi, who attempted 95, with the former Juve playmaker achieving an accuracy of 86.6 per cent.

Pedri played with the flare of youth, though he did not shirk off his defensive work – his three tackles the joint-highest in Barca's side, along with Ronald Araujo.

Dembele's display, meanwhile, was perhaps the most promising of all for Koeman. Injury limited the Frenchman to nine appearances last season, and his deflected long-range effort ended a 12-month wait for a goal.

PIRLO STRUGGLING TO FIND A BALANCE

Though it must be noted that Wednesday's clash was only Pirlo's eighth as coach, and his first defeat, Juve looked a shadow of their former selves. 

Dybala may have been anonymous, but he was not helped by Juve's tendency to channel their play down the right flank, with only 25.4 per cent of their attacks going through central areas.

With Pjanic pulling the strings for Barca, Adrien Rabiot and Rodrigo Bentancur failed to combine with any real effect. Ahead of them, Dybala, Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski combined for just three attempts, with Morata forced into playing both as a poacher and creator – his tally of three opportunities created the most of any Juve player.

In their 200th Champions League game, Juve failed to put any of their 10 efforts on target, albeit Morata had three goals rightly disallowed.

Juve have now failed to score in their last four meetings with Barca, and Pirlo's Bianconeri, with three wins, four draws and a defeat, are a team struggling to discover their identity.

Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi were on target as Barcelona defeated 10-man Juventus 2-0 in their Champions League Group G clash at the Allianz Stadium.    

Playing for the first time since Josep Maria Bartomeu announced on Tuesday he and the club's board of directors are resigning, Barca started sharply and went ahead inside 15 minutes thanks to Dembele's second goal of the season.   

Juve - once again without the self-isolating Cristiano Ronaldo - were largely second best to Ronald Koeman's side throughout but will feel hard done by after Alvaro Morata had three efforts ruled out for offside.   

Merih Demiral was dismissed after receiving a second yellow card in the 85th minute before Messi compounded Juve's misery with a cool penalty in stoppage time. 

Cristiano Ronaldo will miss Juventus' Champions League fixture against Barcelona on Wednesday after being left out of the squad following his positive COVID-19 test.

Ronaldo has been self-isolating since testing positive for the virus while away on international duty with Portugal this month.

The 35-year-old had hoped to feature in Juve's Group G fixture against Barca, meaning a chance to once again go up against Lionel Messi, but needed a negative test 24 hours prior to kick-off in Turin.

Ronaldo has not featured for the Serie A club since a 2-2 draw against Roma at the end of September.

The former Real Madrid player, who has been Juve's top scorer for the past two seasons, enjoyed a fierce rivalry with Messi on the pitch during his time in LaLiga.

In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Ronaldo said he was "feeling good and healthy".

In a second message, which was later deleted, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner apparently proclaimed the pre-game coronavirus testing regimen was "bulls***".

Centre-back Leonardo Bonucci was included in Andrea Pirlo's squad, however, having passed a late fitness test.

Josep Maria Bartomeu has resigned as president of Barcelona, with the whole board stepping down with immediate effect ahead of a proposed vote of no confidence. 

Bartomeu announced his decision on Tuesday, a day before Barca – under the tutelage of the outgoing president's final coaching appointment in Ronald Koeman – take on Juventus in the Champions League. 

It brings to an end a six-year reign for the 57-year-old, who had insisted only on Monday that there was no reason to resign from his position. 

Barca won the treble in Bartomeu's first year in charge, yet things gradually began to unravel over the course of his tenure. 

Successive Champions League capitulations to Roma and then Liverpool signalled the beginning of the end during what was a tumultuous final year for Bartomeu.

May 2019: Anfield nightmare

Barca – who had collapsed at Roma in the previous season's quarter-finals – had a 3-0 advantage as they arrived at Anfield to complete the Champions League semi-final. 

Liverpool were without forward duo Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino too, yet the Reds stormed to a 4-0 triumph, making Barca the first team since Gothenburg in 1986 to lose a semi-final having held a three-goal first-leg advantage. 

January 2020: Valverde out, Setien in

Having led Barca to successive LaLiga titles, Ernesto Valverde survived the capitulation at Anfield but a poor run of form that culminated in a defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana marked the end of his tenure. 

With then-Netherlands boss Koeman reportedly an option, Barca - who had spent big on Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann - were turned down by club legend Xavi, so Bartomeu opted instead for the experience of former Real Betis boss Quique Setien, a somewhat surprising appointment.

August 2020: Humiliation in Lisbon

Setien managed six victories from his opening eight LaLiga matches, though Barca went down 2-0 to Real Madrid. However, an 18-point haul was enough to propel them to top of the table when the coronavirus pandemic caused the suspension of football across Europe. 

Yet Barca, who had dropped out of the Copa del Rey in February, drew with Sevilla, Celta Vigo and Atletico Madrid upon the resumption, then lost to Osasuna at home to gift rivals Real Madrid the title. 

It meant Barca headed into their Champions League quarter-final tie with Bayern Munich in Lisbon knowing they had just one shot at silverware, though what followed was one of the most humiliating moments in the club's illustrious history. 

Bayern crushed Barca 8-2 on their way to lifting the trophy, the on-loan Philippe Coutinho scoring two of the goals in the rout of his parent club, and Setien's spell was over.

August and September 2020: Koeman takes charge, Messi wants out 

Having missed out to Setien previously, Camp Nou legend Koeman finally landed his dream job. However, the ink on the Dutchman's contract was barely dry by the time reports emerged that superstar Lionel Messi wanted to leave the club. 

Barca subsequently confirmed that Messi had asked to be released from his contract, with the 33-year-old citing a clause in his contract which would allow him to leave for free, rather than for his €700 million buyout clause. 

After much speculation, however, Messi confirmed on September 4 that he would remain with Barca for the final year of his contract, though he criticised how the club had been run and reiterated his dissatisfaction of Bartomeu's leadership. 

October 2020: Bartomeu resigns 

A 3-1 Clasico defeat to Madrid in front of an empty Camp Nou was the final game of the Bartomeu era. The rest of Barca's board also resigned too - it now remains to be seen where the club go next. 

He did not go quietly, though. Announcing his decision during a speech that did not allow any chance for questions from the media, Bartomeu revealed Barcelona had accepted an invitation to join a proposed new European Super League. 

"The European Super League will make it so the club can remain being one of the members," the outgoing president said.

Juventus are waiting on the results of a round of coronavirus tests to find out whether Cristiano Ronaldo will be able to play against Barcelona.

Ronaldo has been sidelined since testing positive for COVID-19 while on international duty with Portugal this month, missing Serie A draws with Crotone and Hellas Verona either side of a 2-0 victory over Dynamo Kiev.

A decision on his availability for their next Champions League clash with Barca and long-time rival Lionel Messi on Wednesday will go down to the wire.

The game at the Allianz Stadium would be the first time Messi and Ronaldo have gone up against one another in the competition since May 2011.

"He had a swab today [Tuesday] like everyone else. We have to wait for the outcome of the test. I think it will come in the evening," head coach Andrea Pirlo said.

"We have to wait for the result, then we'll see [if he will play]. For now, everything is still uncertain. We hope to be able to evaluate him even if it's not easy after 15 days of inactivity."

Pirlo also has concerns in defence, with Giorgio Chiellini and Matthijs de Ligt ruled out and Leonardo Bonucci facing a late fitness test.

"Tomorrow we will see what players we have available. Barcelona are strong and have great champions. We will have to play a great game," he said.

"The players will certainly have to sacrifice themselves and play a great game. [Weston] McKennie is training but I don't think he can play as a defender [against Barcelona].

"I'll continue with a back four because I only have four defenders."

Under-fire Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said he could not sanction Lionel Messi's transfer to a rival club, reiterating his desire for the superstar captain to retire at Camp Nou.

Messi handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 season, which saw Barca humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals and dethroned by Real Madrid in LaLiga, before the six-time Ballon d'Or winner opted to stay this term.

The 33-year-old was tipped to join Premier League giants Manchester City and while the transfer did not materialise, Pep Guardiola's side are reportedly still eyeing a move for the Argentina skipper.

Bartomeu – facing a vote of no confidence next month following a motion against the incumbent president passed the threshold of 16,250 votes on October 8 – came in for criticism after blocking Messi's move and the 57-year-old explained his stance.

"Our priority was keeping Messi as part of our new project so I decided against starting a discussion," Bartomeu said.

"I had been accused of forcing his departure in order to balance our books. Well, no, we put the interests of the club first and didn't want to reinforce a direct rival. We made that decision knowing that we would be criticised for it.

"I understand the positions of everyone, empathising is important. In the case of Leo, it is good to get angry because it is not good to accept defeat and we have all gotten angry. 

"But there was a deadline for him to announce whether or not he was going unilaterally. He didn't and here it is. We all want him to retire at Barca."

Bartomeu added: "Because of the Messi case, it never occurred to me to resign. For Barcelona, for the club, for the team, having Messi and having him retire here is the best option for everyone.

"The project is very interesting with young people and veterans, like Messi. And I think that, with him, we are going to win a title this season."

Barca, meanwhile, issued a statement detailing their "absolute disagreement" with VAR decisions following Saturday's 3-1 Clasico loss to Madrid.

Ronald Koeman's Barca were left angered by the decision for VAR to award Madrid a penalty following Clement Lenglet's shirt pull on Los Blancos captain Sergio Ramos.

"Faced with the events brought about by the application of VAR during the game last Saturday against Real Madrid CF, the board of directors wishes to reiterate its confidence in VAR as a technology to assist referees with their work but, at the same time, expresses its absolute disagreement with regard to the criteria used for its application and interpretation in recent months," the statement read.

"The board considers that, in the cases of identical or very similar game situations, VAR has not upheld the essential criteria of ethics and fairness, which has had a serious negative impact on FC Barcelona and has benefitted its most direct opponents. It is public knowledge that other clubs in LaLiga have made public statements on the same issue. 

"FC Barcelona urges the Spanish Football Federation to take immediate action, with the collaboration of the LaLiga clubs if it sees fit, to unify the criteria of interpretation and application and put an end to a situation that is damaging the image and credibility of what we consider the best league in the world."

Bartomeu said: "Just now when I was coming into the press conference I was informed that there are audio recordings of a lineman talking with the referee in Barcelona’s game against Real Madrid.

"We are going to analyse it. We have been requesting another verification of the VAR criteria for some time and we are calling for a joint reflection by the professional teams. It cannot be one way in some games and in another way in others."

Lionel Messi remains the best footballer in the world and it is down to his Barcelona team-mates to play to the forward's strengths, according to midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has yet to fully adapt to new boss Ronald Koeman's 4-2-3-1 system, failing to score from open play in six matches this season.

He has also created just one chance in LaLiga this term, with young academy product Ansu Fati - five goals and one assist in all competitions - stealing the limelight.

But De Jong, who has thrived in a deeper midfield role under Koeman, insists it is down to the others in Barca's squad to ensure Messi is in the right positions to work his magic.

"When you have Messi in your team, of course you have the best player in the world in your team," he told UEFA's official website. 

"You try to get him into the best positions to make a difference and I think we need to adapt to him. 

"When he is receiving the ball in a position where he can make the difference, he will make it for you, always."

De Jong struggled at times in his debut campaign at Camp Nou, but has been shifted into his favoured position by Koeman alongside Sergio Busquets.

The Netherlands international is averaging more successful dribbles this season (2.45) compared to the 2019/20 campaign (1.95) and, while he is touching the ball less often - down from 81.43 per game to 77.73 - he is happy with the tactical tweak.

"I think in my nature as a player, I want to receive the ball early in the play and to set up the play," he said. 

"I think that's more my style of play than waiting for the ball and receiving it up front, and touching the ball less. 

"I think I feel more comfortable in the pivot position than high up front, but I can also play high up front. 

"It doesn't matter for me so much but, if I had to choose, I would rather play as a double pivot than, for example, as a 'mediapunta' (false nine)."

De Jong was signed from Ajax in a €75million deal in January 2019 and linked up with then-Barca boss Ernesto Valverde in Catalonia six months later.

And the 23-year-old has revealed Koeman, who was his national team manager at the time, advised him on a possible switch to the LaLiga giants.

"I spoke to him on the phone and he was really positive about Barcelona as a club as well as Barcelona as a city," he said of the former Barca defender.

"I think the communication between us, between the coach and me, is really good, and he tells me strictly what he demands from me in this position, and I think everything is really clear. 

"When he's talking, you are listening to him because he has this authority, this power – I don't know how to explain it – and, of course, he has a lot of knowledge about football because I think he understands the game and was a great player before. 

"So, if he tries to teach you something, you're listening."

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