Sergio Busquets hopes Barcelona and Arthur come to a speedy resolution on the Brazil international's situation at Camp Nou.

Arthur has agreed to join Juventus at the end of the season in a deal worth €82million, with Miralem Pjanic heading the other way for a fee that could reach €65m.

The former Gremio midfielder has not featured for Barca since his transfer was announced in June and did not return to training following the conclusion of LaLiga.

Arthur has been left out of the Barcelona squad to face Napoli in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Saturday and is reported to be hoping to negotiate the termination of his contract.

"It was a surprise to everyone that Arthur did not return," said Busquets, who will be unavailable to face Napoli due to a suspension triggered by a booking in the 1-1 draw in the first leg.

"Arthur's situation has been difficult, but the only ones who know the situation are the player and the club.

"We know some of the news from what comes out, that he left and will now return, but we are on the sidelines and we hope they reach an agreement that will be the best for all.

"We will only focus on the game against Napoli."

Head coach Quique Setien said of Arthur: "I spoke with him before he left, the reality is that from then on I have not spoken to him again, what I have learned has been through the club. I would have liked it to be different, but I can't say anything else."

Barca held a two-point advantage at the top of LaLiga when the season was paused amid the coronavirus pandemic but ended up finishing five adrift of champions Real Madrid.

Captain Lionel Messi made it clear they needed to improve to have a chance of getting past Gennaro Gattuso's Napoli and held talks with Setien to clear the air ahead of the resumption of their European campaign.

Busquets said: "Everything that is discussed in the dressing room to improve is welcome. These weeks have been very good for us to train, to better plan the game tactically.

"We really want to be able to continue in this competition and be in the final eight, but first we have Napoli, who have a great coach and he's not going to make it easy for us."

It remains unclear whether Setien will still be at the helm for the start of the 2020-21 season, but Busquets believes it will be a positive sign for everyone at the club if he is retained.

"It's a decision for the club whether Setien continues or not," he said.

"If Setien continues it will be a good sign for everyone, but that should not worry us now."

Sergio Busquets conceded Barcelona face an uphill battle to retain their LaLiga crown after a 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Lionel Messi scored his 700th goal but it was not enough for Barca to claim all three points at Camp Nou, where Saul Niguez scored two penalties to earn Atleti a share of the spoils.

The draw leaves Barca one point behind leaders Real Madrid, who could move four clear with a win over Getafe on Thursday.

There are five games remaining for Barca to turn things around, but midfielder Busquets acknowledged their fate may well now be out of their hands.

"Look, to fight for the title is really complicated if you're dropping two points each two games, but we're going to keep fighting until the end," the Spain international told Movistar.

"We know it's difficult but we're going to try. They're a difficult rival. We dominated and created chances but the two penalties, penalised us – it's been a real shame.

"We were leaders and in a perfect situation before the break. I think it's been difficult for us since – some matches we've played better, others we haven't.

"Dropping points today and at the weekend means we're a little bit further away from our goal, which is to retain the title. I think we played better today but it's a difficult task ahead of us."

Diego Costa's own goal from Messi's corner put Barcelona ahead, before Saul hauled Atleti level from 12 yards – his goal coming after Costa had seen his penalty saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen, only for a VAR check to spot the goalkeeper had moved off his line.

Messi chipped home his landmark goal from the penalty spot shortly after half-time, yet Saul kept his composure with his second spot-kick of the match.

Yannick Carrasco won both of Atleti's penalties, and the Belgian – who returned to the club in January following a stint in China – was buoyed by the visitors' resilience.

"We always want to win, but I think the team played well. It's just unfortunate we couldn't get the three points," he said.

"We have to keep working and think about the next game. We were playing against one of the best teams in the world. A point away from home is always positive but we wanted to win.

"It's the attitude which is the most important facet of this team always. After that we can win or lose, but if the attitude is the correct one then the coach is happy. Today wasn't to be but we can be proud of our performance."

After weeks of speculation, Barcelona have agreed a deal to sign Miralem Pjanic from Juventus, with the sale of Arthur in the other direction having also been sanctioned.

It has been one of the more head-scratching transfer stories to have emerged in recent times, given at the age of 30 Pjanic has seven years on Brazil midfielder Arthur – a star whose talent is still burgeoning.

Barca will fork out an initial €60million to Juve, who have in turn agreed to stump up €72million for Arthur's services.

There is a general consensus that Juve have the better part of the agreement, due mainly to Pjanic's age.

The deal is sure to impact several of Barcelona's midfield too. We take a look at what the arrival of Pjanic may mean for the Blaugrana's current options.


IVAN RAKITIC

Croatia international Rakitic has been a mainstay of Barca's midfield since joining from Sevilla in 2014, winning four LaLiga titles, as many Copas del Rey and the Champions League during a trophy-laden stint. But Rakitic has not always been universally loved by the Camp Nou faithful, perhaps his only crime being he is simply not club legends Xavi or Andres Iniesta, and has at times been subjected to jeers from the crowd. With his contract up in 2021 there have been plenty of rumours Barca could cash in and Atletico Madrid have been strongly linked with his signature. The player himself said this month he is not heading for the exit door, but this rumour is unlikely to go away anytime soon.


SERGIO BUSQUETS

Busquets is heading for the sort of legendary status the aforementioned Xavi and Iniesta achieved at Camp Nou. Since breaking into the first team from the club's legendary La Masia academy 12 years ago, there has been no player in world football more consistently brilliant in the defensive pivot role and his influence on Barcelona for over a decade can never be understated. But the World Cup winner turns 32 next month and Father Time does not slow down even for the world's best. Such is Busquets' enduring quality, he likely has a couple more years left at the elite level, yet Barca will need to start contemplating life after this club great. Pjanic may have been brought in to help bridge the gap between generations.


RIQUI PUIG

Widely considered as a player to carry Barca into the next generation, Puig has made six LaLiga appearances this term – the only start among those outings only came in last weekend's 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo. With doubts over the long-term futures of Rakitic and Arturo Vidal, it looked as though a breakthrough to becoming a more regular and influential part of the first team was on the cards for the 20-year-old. But the arrival of Pjanic may mean that particular path is blocked once again for one of Barca's greatest hopes. With fellow academy graduate Carles Alena having departed for Real Betis on loan in search of regular football in January, and the possibility that move gets made permanent, Barca will need to assuage any concerns over a lack of minutes or risk their talented youngster getting itchy feet.


ARTURO VIDAL

The arrival of Vidal from Bayern Munich on a three-year deal in August 2018 was met with a similar lack of fanfare to Pjanic's. The fact the Chile midfielder was 31 when he moved to Camp Nou only adds to the similarities. Much like Rakitic, Vidal's future at Barca has been the subject of regular debate, with a return to Serie A – where he formerly represented Juventus – to link up with Antonio Conte at Inter frequently mooted. Vidal recently said he is happy to stay at Barcelona so long as he feels important. He turned 33 last month, though, and the arrival of Pjanic may complicate his desire to be utilised in the trophy-defining matches. With Vidal there is very much a watch-this-space feel.


FRENKIE DE JONG

to agreeing his big-money move to Barcelona from Ajax last year, at least if the newspapers are to believed. De Jong has made 27 LaLiga appearances, including 24 starts, in a debut campaign that has shown flashes of brilliance but never truly ignited. Lofty expectations and ruthlessness are common at a club the stature of Barca, Arthur himself can pay testament to that, and more will be expected of De Jong moving forward. Still, he remains just 23 and Barca will surely build around De Jong for the next decade – perhaps flanked by Pjanic for a decent chunk of that time.

Rising Chelsea star Billy Gilmour says Barcelona midfield greats Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets have helped to shape his development.

Gilmour, 18, has caught the eye this season with impressive displays for the Blues, particularly against Liverpool in the FA Cup and on his full Premier League debut against Everton.

The midfielder, who was named man of the match in that 4-0 victory over the Toffees, says he has always been inspired by watching the style of play of some of Barca's finest footballers.

"When I was young, I used to watch Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – everyone did," he told Sky Sports. "But when I started to analyse my game and think about who I would like to progress to be like, it was more like Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas – it was those players.

"It was something about how they passed the ball, receiving the ball, everything was sharp. Sergio Busquets too; when you watch Barcelona and you watch Busquets individually, everything happens around him.

"Those are the kind of players I looked up to, getting on the ball and making things happen."

Gilmour left Rangers for Chelsea in 2017 and admits it was the Premier League club's long-term planning that convinced him it was the right move.

"At the time [of moving], I didn't really know what was going to happen," he said. "But when I went down, saw everything and they had a plan, it was unbelievable. It was a dream. I always wanted to go and play in the Premier League to test myself and see what my limit is.

"When I first came, I'd say I was more of an attacking midfielder, and then [assistant coach] Jody Morris turned me into a deeper player. To get on the ball and start play is best for me, but I am happy playing anywhere."

Speaking of his standout performance in the 2-0 win over Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, he added: "There were parts that I felt were difficult, but when I got on the ball I felt good. I had players running off, so it was making it easy for me.

"It was a great, great game so I was happy to play well. And then receiving the man of the match, it was amazing. I never thought of it, I just wanted to play the game well, not muck up anything, and play the game right.

"To get first-team experience against Liverpool, the best team in the world right now, felt good."

Passing the ball can sometimes look like the easiest thing in the world to do. At least, it does when these guys do it.

Our latest dive into the data of 2019-20 sees us look at the best playmakers in Europe's top-five leagues before the season was called to a halt.

We've deliberately broadened our approach to what constitutes a playmaker here – Gerard Pique doesn't often appear as a number 10, unless Barca are in real trouble – as the idea is to offer a wider consideration of those players who generally use the ball better than most when in possession.

To that end, we've looked at 12 different metrics to come up with the top performers of the campaign, again from among those to make at least 10 league appearances.

While some stars are not exactly strange to see in the list below, there is a handful of more surprising names, too...

 

THE TOP PLAYMAKERS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

BUNDESLIGA:

Most successful passes: Sven Bender (1,766)
Highest passing accuracy: Axel Witsel (94.1 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Joshua Kimmich (873)
Highest passing accuracy, opposition half: Axel Witsel (92.2)
Most passes ending in final third: Jadon Sancho (576)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Axel Witsel (88.4 per cent)
Most chances created: Christopher Nkunku (65)
Most big chances created: Thomas Muller (24)
Most assists: Thomas Muller (16)
Most assists from open play: Thomas Muller (15)
Most crosses/corners successful: Filip Kostic (71)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Dennis Geiger (50 per cent)

LALIGA:

Most successful passes: Gerard Pique (1,688)
Highest passing accuracy: Toni Kroos (93.6 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Sergio Busquets (957)
Highest passing accuracy, opposition half: Toni Kroos (92.4)
Most passes ending in final third: Lionel Messi (698)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Toni Kroos (90.3)
Most chances created: Jose Campana (58)
Most big chances created: Lionel Messi (22)
Most assists: Lionel Messi (12)
Most assists from open play: Portu and Lionel Messi (8)
Most crosses/corners successful: Jesus Navas (43)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Benat (55 per cent)

LIGUE 1:

Most successful passes: Marco Verratti (1,581)
Highest passing accuracy: Thiago Silva (95.5 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Marco Verratti (956)
Highest passing accuracy, opposition half: Thiago Silva (92.8 per cent)
Most passes ending in final third: Angel Di Maria (543)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Colin Dagba (86 per cent)
Most chances created: Dimitri Payet (87)
Most big chances created: Angel Di Maria (31)
Most assists: Angel Di Maria (14)
Most assists from open play: Angel Di Maria (10)
Most crosses/corners successful: Dimitri Payet (63)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Marco Verratti (54.6 per cent)

 

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Most successful passes: Virgil van Dijk (2,209)
Highest passing accuracy: John Stones (94 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Rodri (1,069)
Highest passing accuracy, opposition half: John Stones (93.9 per cent)
Most passes ending in final third: Kevin De Bruyne (740)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Ibrahim Amadou (93.3 per cent)
Most chances created: Kevin De Bruyne (96)
Most big chances created: Kevin De Bruyne (23)
Most assists: Kevin De Bruyne (16)
Most assists from open play: Kevin De Bruyne (14)
Most crosses/corners successful: Kevin De Bruyne (69)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Christian Atsu (47.1 per cent)

 

SERIE A:

Most successful passes: Fabian Ruiz (1,488)
Highest passing accuracy: Marlon Santos (94.1 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Fabian Ruiz (932)
Passing accuracy, opposition half: Eljif Elmas (91.5 per cent)
Most passes ending in final third: Luis Alberto (723)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Walace (89.7 per cent)
Most chances created: Luis Alberto (75)
Most big chances created: Luis Alberto (16)
Most assists: Luis Alberto (12)
Most assists from open play: Luis Alberto and Alejandro Gomez (9)
Most crosses/corners successful: Erick Pulgar (46)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Armando Izzo (54.6 per cent)

 

AND THE TOP 12:

Most successful passes: Virgil van Dijk (2,209)
Highest passing accuracy: Thiago Silva (95.5 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Rodri (1,069)
Passing accuracy, opposition half: John Stones (93.9 per cent)
Most passes ending in final third: Kevin De Bruyne (740)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Ibrahim Amadou (93.3 per cent)
Most chances created: Kevin De Bruyne (96)
Most big chances created: Angel Di Maria (31)
Most assists: Thomas Muller and Kevin De Bruyne (16)
Most assists from open play: Thomas Muller (15)
Most crosses/corners successful: Filip Kostic (71)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Benat (55 per cent)

 

Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets has cast doubt on LaLiga's 2019-20 season being resumed despite lockdown measures being eased in Spain.

LaLiga has been suspended indefinitely since March as part of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, which has affected the country badly.

Spain has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Europe with 180,659, while there have been close to 19,000 confirmed deaths.

However, some of the government's strict lockdown measures have started to be relaxed, with more people permitted to return to work this week as the number of new infections continues to drop.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has suggested the competition could return as early as the end of next month, but Busquets is not convinced it will be possible to conclude the 2019-20 season.

"I think it'll be difficult to resume," he told Cadena COPE and Onda Cero. "I don't think it can be done.

"At first, I wanted to see how it evolved and now it seems we've reached the peak. I'm waiting for good news. I think it will be difficult to resume because of travel, getting everyone together. That will be the problem."

Barca were top of the table, two points above Real Madrid, when the league was put on hold.

Quique Setien says he remains positive about Barcelona's hopes of progressing in the Champions League despite Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal's absences for the last-16 second leg against Napoli in three weeks' time.

Barca laboured to a 1-1 draw against the Serie A side at Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday, scoring through Antoine Griezmann.

The France international's strike cancelled out a superb first-half goal from Dries Mertens, who limped off early in the second half after a heavy challenge from Busquets.

That foul earned the holding midfielder a yellow card, which rules him out of the second leg, while Vidal will also sit out the clash at Camp Nou after receiving his marching orders for quick-fire cautions in the same incident with Mario Rui late on.

Setien is not despondent, though, and is confident his side – who also lost Gerard Pique to injury late in stoppage time – will have enough firepower to overcome Gennaro Gattuso's men.

"We will look for solutions," he told a media conference.

"We have lost important players, but we will recover two others – Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto. We have to look at things with optimism. We will be optimistic and think positively."

Setien refused to blame his players for their lacklustre performance, instead preferring to criticise what he perceived to be a negative display by the hosts.

"It is a good result considering that we have a return game at home," he added.

"They have defended with 10 players very close to their area. It is true that we have not generated much, but we knew that it was a matter of patience.

"It has been a close match and I consider it fair. We have had control, but in the first half they defended well and took advantage of the only occasion they had.

"The second half was different; there were more spaces and we have done more damage. A 1-1 draw is fine for the second leg."

Lionel Messi grabbed a hat-trick of assists as Barcelona ended a tumultuous week with a pulsating 3-2 LaLiga win over Real Betis at the Benito Villamarin on Sunday.

The Catalan giants were dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Athletic Bilbao in midweek, while Messi has been involved in a public spat with technical director Eric Abidal after he questioned the work ethic of some players under previous boss Ernesto Valverde.

Quique Setien's side got off to a terrible start against his former employers, with Sergio Canales' penalty putting the hosts ahead early on, but a wonderful goal from Frenkie de Jong pulled the champions level soon after.

Nabil Fekir - who was later dismissed for two bookable offences in quick succession - restored the hosts' advantage with a fine finish, before Sergio Busquets scored a second equaliser on the stroke of half-time.

Clement Lenglet then headed home Messi's free-kick 18 minutes from time to ensure Barca remain three points behind leaders Real Madrid after their 4-1 win at Osasuna earlier in the day, although the Frenchman blotted his copybook by picking up a second yellow card soon after Fekir's dismissal.

Betis opened the scoring in the sixth minute, Canales stroking home from the penalty spot after Lenglet had handled Fekir's strike inside the penalty area.

Their lead lasted just three minutes, though, as De Jong chested down Messi's superb ball over the top and volleyed past Joel Robles from six yards.

Fekir rounded off a swift counter-attacking move with a fine low strike from 18 yards past Marc-Andre ter Stegen to restore Betis' advantage just before the half-hour mark.

Messi was again the provider for Barca's equaliser in first-half stoppage time, his deep free-kick turned in by Busquets from eight yards.

Messi was twice denied by Robles after the interval but he was central to Barca's winner, floating in a free-kick that was headed home by a towering Lenglet.

Fekir saw red 14 minutes from time, picking up quickfire bookings for a foul on Lenglet and dissent, while Barca's French defender also received his marching orders three minutes later after catching Joaquin.

Gerard Pique said Barcelona's dressing room was united despite the LaLiga champions suffering a crushing blow in an already troubling week, eliminated by Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey.

A 1-0 defeat to Athletic saw Barcelona knocked out of the Copa in the quarter-finals on Thursday, with that familiar route to silverware now cut off to the 30-time winners.

The setback followed criticism from director of football Eric Abidal, who questioned the team's effort under former head coach Ernesto Valverde, which led to a rebuke from star man and captain Lionel Messi.

"It's not time to air the dirty washing. The dressing room is fully united," Barca defender Pique told reporters. "Elimination is a big blow but we said in the dressing room that we've taken a step forward and played well, despite all the noise that's been generated."

He added, according to several Spanish newspapers: "We have to focus on playing and winning. We have to return to winning ways. The players have the ability to keep winning and we are working on that every day, finding a better feel for the game."

With LaLiga and the Champions League still in their sights, Pique said of Barcelona, who are three points behind Real Madrid: "There is enough confidence and talent to be able to win the two remaining titles."

Pique hobbled off in the second half in Bilbao with what initially appeared to be a groin injury, but he said the blow was to his adductor and "not serious".

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Barcelona looked to be on the right track, after a match they could easily have won.

Messi and Antoine Griezmann missed clear chances before Inaki Williams headed the winner deep in second-half stoppage time.

"The first thing is to congratulate Athletic, who will be in the semi-finals, but I also thank the Barca fans who have come and I also congratulate the Barca players because they fought, dominated and played well. [Athletic] have only had one chance and they scored," Bartomeu told Barca TV.

He said that he appreciated Barcelona's "performance and ambition".

"The ambition and the attitude that I saw on the pitch encourages me with a view to LaLiga and the Champions League, so successes can come," Bartomeu added.

"I repeat that we had clear occasions, such as those of Griezmann and Messi, and we dominated. Now we focus on LaLiga and the Champions League, but I want to emphasise the ambition, the attitude and the work done. We deserved to go through."

Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets said, according to AS: "It is a sad day for everyone. We have two competitions that we have to keep fighting in. This does not stop, we have to continue, we have done things well and we have had the game quite under control. In an isolated play at the end we are out of the Copa."

Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique have all been left out of Barcelona's trip to Ibiza in the Copa del Rey.

The trio are being rested for the round-of-32 clash against the third-tier side.

Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele remain unavailable due to injury, although the former has begun the next stage of his treatment process in Catalonia as he recovers from meniscus damage.

Quique Setien has called up youngsters Carles Perez, Riqui Puig, Abel Ruiz and Chumi to the 18-man squad, alongside rising star Ansu Fati.

Barca face a potentially difficult LaLiga trip to Valencia just three days after the Ibiza clash.

Sergio Busquets refused to compare Barcelona under Ernesto Valverde and Quique Setien after the Catalans made a winning start to life under their new head coach.

Barca returned to the top of LaLiga with a 1-0 win over a dogged Granada at Camp Nou on Sunday.

The home side enjoyed nearly 83 per cent of the possession but could not break down their visitors until Lionel Messi struck 76 minutes in after German Sanchez had been sent off.

Setien's variation of a 3-4-3 saw Barca monopolise the ball and push high up the pitch, a style more in keeping with the methods of Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola than Valverde, who was sacked this month after losing to Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana.

Busquets was pleased with their display but would not enter into comparisons between the methods of Setien and Valverde, who eventually lost the faith of the fans and the board due to his more cautious approach.

"We were a solid team. We had control of the ball. They created little against us," he told Movistar.

"It's true that we struggled when they dropped deep but, in general terms, the team played a good game.

"It's not about comparing. Every coach has his style and his way of seeing football. You'll see what Setien asks us to do. We're not going to reveal it.

"We're delighted with what Ernesto did and we're delighted with Setien."

Setien also earned a cheer from the Camp Nou crowd for bringing on Masia graduate Riqui Puig, who found chances hard to come by under Valverde.

The 20-year-old won back possession on the edge of the Granada box in the build-up to the goal, and Busquets hopes it is just the start for the midfielder.

"He has a lot of things to mature, but it looks like he can be here [to boost the team]," Busquets added.

Barca are level with Real Madrid on 43 points at the top of the table after 20 games, with Atletico Madrid and Sevilla eight points adrift.

Barcelona's preparations for their Supercopa de Espana semi-final with Atletico Madrid hit an unfortunate snag on Wednesday when their team bus was lost in Jeddah.

Head coach Ernesto Valverde and midfielder Sergio Busquets were due to speak to the media at 1745 local time (1445 GMT) at Al-Ittihad Sport City.

Barca, like Atletico, decided to hold training there because of concerns about the pitches at the Al Ahli complex.

To confuse matters further, the team bus driver set off on Wednesday for the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, where the two semi-finals are to be played, rather than the Al-Ittihad facilities.

The bus then became lost in a maze of traffic in the 40 miles between the two venues. Suffice it to say that Barca were forced to delay the news conference until after training.

"We certainly know the city a bit better now," said Valverde a little later. "There was a little mistake. We went to the stadium where Real Madrid and Valencia play tonight. He realised before we arrived but then there was some traffic, so we were late."

With concern over a lack of tickets sold and players such as Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Ousmane Dembele, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale all absent, the inaugural expanded Supercopa could do without any further problems.

The first semi-final between Valencia and Real Madrid takes place on Wednesday, with Barca and Atleti meeting a day later.

Ernesto Valverde does not foresee any of his Barcelona players departing in January, with Milan-linked defender Jean-Clair Todibo returning to the squad for Saturday's game against Deportivo Alaves.

Teenager Todibo, 19, has played just 77 minutes in LaLiga for Valverde's side this season, and his only start came against Sevilla back in October.

That has led to speculation the Frenchman could be jettisoned to Serie A club Milan next month, though Valverde included Todibo in the 20-man squad Barca named on Friday.

Arturo Vidal is another player who has been linked with a move away from Camp Nou, with reports claiming the Chile international stormed out of training upon leaning he would not be starting Wednesday's Clasico.

However, Valverde does not expect to lose Todibo or Vidal in the next window as he looks to deliver a third straight LaLiga title.

"I'm really happy with the players I've got," he told a news conference. "I don't expect any modifications."

Though Todibo and Vidal were both named in the group to face Alaves, teenager Ansu Fati was not included.

The club later confirmed Fati faced a spell on the sidelines with a hip problem.

Sergio Busquets missed the goalless draw with Real Madrid because of illness, though Valverde expects the midfielder to return this weekend.

"I hope so; he trained normally today," Valverde said.

"The fever seems to have gone away, he should be able to play." 

Ernesto Valverde explained Sergio Busquets was a late omission from Barcelona's Clasico line-up against Real Madrid due to a fever.

The Spain international was originally named among Barca's starting XI but was a late withdrawal with Ivan Rakitic taking his place.

Confusion reigned with some reports suggesting Busquets was going to be among the substitutes instead, but head coach Valverde confirmed it was illness that meant he missed the goalless draw at Camp Nou.

"It is true that Busquets was feeling bad, he had a fever, before the game," Valverde told Movistar.

"We thought we could have used him in the second half but not in the end. The coach makes the decision based on what he sees."

There was no lack of endeavour in a match that saw both teams create chances to win all three points, a fact acknowledged by Valverde.

"It was a very disputed match in which there were phases for both teams," he added.

"They squeezed us high and created problems with high balls. That's where we've suffered."

On Madrid's high pressing, Valverde said: "We expected this. In the end they are situations of individual duels that you must solve.

"Sometimes we have achieved it and sometimes not."

Gareth Bale will start for Real Madrid against Barcelona on Wednesday, while Luka Modric drops to the bench.

Wales star Bale will join Karim Benzema in attack for his first LaLiga start in December, with Isco retaining his place from the 1-1 draw with Valencia on Sunday.

Casemiro, Federico Valverde and Toni Kroos line up in midfield, meaning 2018 Ballon d'Or winner Modric is among the substitutes, along with Rodrygo Goes, Vinicius Junior and Luka Jovic.

Ferland Mendy is back at left-back after being suspended for the Valencia match.

Barcelona line up with Antoine Griezmann alongside Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi in attack, while Ivan Rakitic and Frenkie de Jong look set to be joined by Sergi Roberto in midfield.

Sergio Busquets was initially named in the line-up, with Rakitic on the bench, but Barca announced a late change that saw the Spain international drop to the bench.

Messi will equal Xavi on a record 42 Clasico appearances for Barca, as the Catalans go in search of a 73rd LaLiga win over their fierce rivals, with each side currently on 72 victories each from 178 previous meetings.

Nelson Semedo is at right-back for the champions, with Arturo Vidal, who was reportedly angry at being told he would not start the match, among the substitutes.

Barca and Madrid are level on 35 points at the top of LaLiga ahead of the match at Camp Nou.

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