Xavi insisted age would not be a barrier when Barcelona rebuild in the close season as the Catalan giants continue to be linked with 33-year-old Robert Lewandowski.

The Barcelona head coach said he had not concluded discussions with club power-brokers over transfer plans, and had not spoken to the team's current players about plans.

Bayern Munich frontman Lewandowski is reportedly keen on joining Barcelona, while Xavi did not rule out an exit for Frenkie de Jong, who has been linked with Manchester United.

Uncertainty lingers over whether Barcelona will have much financial clout in the transfer window, as they attempt to come through an economic crisis that has hit Camp Nou hard.

It may be that the likes of De Jong – in what should be their prime years, at the top of their market value – have to be sacrificed in order to bring in the quick-fix solution that a player such as veteran goal-getter Lewandowski might provide.

Xavi told a news conference: "The circumstances of the club are what rule. I have an important part in decision-making. From here on, we depend on the economic situation.

"In a few days we should know where we are in order to plan for next season. The economic situation keeps us at bay, it is obvious that marks the present and the future of the club."

Asked about Dutch midfielder De Jong, Xavi said: "For me, he is a very important player. He has been a starter almost always, except when he has been rotated.

"He is a fundamental footballer, but then there is the financial situation of the club. He is a player that I like very much, but we are going to see how the situation is."

Xavi said Barcelona have "untouchables" in their ranks who must not be transferred, and although he did not name such players, the growing number of youngsters coming through the ranks such as Ansu Fati, Pedri and Gavi likely fall into that category.

Lewandowski, who has scored 49 goals in 45 games for Bayern this season, could be the player that allows Barcelona to bridge the gap to Real Madrid next season. Barcelona have moved far closer to Madrid's standards since Xavi was appointed in November, after a dismal start to the campaign under Ronald Koeman, but Los Blancos have carried off the LaLiga title with a comfortable cushion.

In light of the Lewandowski reports, Xavi was asked whether he could sign veteran players and was adamant he would, contingent on whether such stars kept themselves in good shape.

"I signed Dani Alves at 38," Xavi said. "It's not age, it's performance. Players take care of themselves so much and every year they are more professional.

"Ibrahimovic, Modric, Dani Alves, they all have a very high performance at important clubs. Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Lionel] Messi too. Age is not a priority. If it improves us, that's the important thing."

Xavi declined to say whether Barcelona would be targeting a goalscorer, declaring it was "not the time to talk about this".

However, he said: "The club knows what we need to be competitive. The board will demand titles from us, and we have to improve."

Xavi, whose side face Getafe in LaLiga on Sunday, explained: "We're talking a lot about players for next year, but we still haven't met the goal of finishing second. There are two games left to finish with a good feeling. Then we'll plan and decide."

Bayern Munich are determined to keep Robert Lewandowski away from Barcelona's clutches as speculation mounts that the Polish striker will request a transfer.

After clinching a 10th consecutive Bundesliga title, Bayern were bringing down the curtain on their season as they travelled to face Wolfsburg on Saturday.

Lewandowski has been champion eight times with Bayern and twice previously with Borussia Dortmund, having left Lech Poznan in 2010 to try his luck in Germany.

Now he is reportedly keen on moving to Barcelona, and with only one year remaining on his contract Bayern are facing a quandary.

They could make fresh attempts to persuade him to sign an extended deal. If it has already passed that point, they could dictate to Lewandowski that he must stay for the next 12 months before leaving on a free transfer. That would risk Bayern going into a new season with a disgruntled senior player.

The alternative is that they cash in on him now, when, at the age of 33, he would still bring in a hefty transfer fee.

Lewandowski has netted 49 goals in 45 games this season, making him the leading scorer across all competitions among players from Europe's top five leagues (Bundesliga, Ligue 1, LaLiga, Premier League, Serie A).

Bayern president Herbert Hainer told German newspaper TZ: "Robert Lewandowski has a contract with FC Bayern until June 30, 2023. And he will fulfil it."

The Wolfsburg game could turn out to be Lewandowski's final match for Bayern, if he is serious about wanting a move.

Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann said the striker had shown professionalism in training but deferred to more senior club officials regarding Lewandowski's future.

"He has been training very well, showing good commitment and scoring great goals," Nagelsmann said in a pre-match news conference on Friday.

"He will be in the starting line-up [on Saturday]. His contractual situation is known and I won't give any information about anything else."

Speaking last month, Bayern chief executive Oliver Kahn considered Lewandowski's situation, saying: "We are in contact with Robert and want him to stay with FC Bayern for as long as possible."

Kahn added: "Of course, at some point players like this get the idea: I've achieved everything here and won everything. Then it takes time to convince him to stay here."

Robert Lewandowski has told Bayern Munich he wishes to leave the club and head to Barcelona in the upcoming transfer window – and manager Julian Nagelsmann will reportedly not stand in his way.

Lewandowski, 33, is in the midst of a historic season, averaging more than a goal per game in both the Bundesliga and Champions League. He has 34 goals and three assists in 33 league fixtures, and 13 goals with three assists in his 10 Champions League games.

With his contract set to expire in just over 12 months, there was a feeling Bayern would prefer to hold on to the Polish star to boost their chances in the Champions League instead of cashing in, but that may not be the case.

 

TOP STORY – LEWANDOWSKI PUSHES FOR BARCA MOVE

Crowned The Best FIFA Men's Player two years in a row, and coming off his third consecutive season with at least 34 league goals, Lewandowski's time in Munich appears to be over as Sport reports he has his heart set on a Barcelona move.

Whether motivated by cashing in while the club still can, or simply honouring the wishes of one of the greatest players to ever wear the badge, Nagelsmann is said to be on board with Lewandowski's decision and will try to facilitate the transfer.

The report includes a note that it may be a difficult move for the Spanish giants to pull off financially, although he is likely central to their off-season plans, meaning the club will do everything in their power to prioritise making it happen.

 

ROUND-UP

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting Real Madrid are "more confident than ever" in landing Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe

– According to Mediaset, Chelsea have reached an agreement with Inter's Ivan Perisic to bring the Croatian over on a free transfer, although Fabrizio Romano insists that Perisic has not made up his mind yet.

– Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong will reject any advances from Manchester United and his former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag, according to the Daily Star.

– Calciomercato claims Paulo Dybala's agent is reportedly in London weighing up offers of Premier League clubs, including Arsenal.

Jude Bellingham will remain with Borussia Dortmund for next season, despite interest from Liverpool and United, according to the Daily Star.

Philippe Coutinho will go up "another level" after agreeing a permanent transfer from Barcelona to Aston Villa, manager Steven Gerrard has said.

Villa announced on Thursday that Coutinho will complete a £17million (€20m) move at the end of the season, having impressed in his half-season loan spell at the Premier League club.

The Brazil international has created the most chances among Villa players (24) since scoring and assisting on his debut against Manchester United on January 15.

Coutinho has also crafted the most 'big chances' – from which Opta would expect a player to score – in that period (five) to go along with his four goals and three assists.

Villa boss Gerrard expressed his delight at securing Coutinho's signature and suggested the 29-year-old will develop in the knowledge he has the full backing of Villa Park.

Asked why he thought Coutinho made the swap from Barcelona to Birmingham, Gerrard joked with reporters: "Probably my banter and my company to be honest!"

He added: "I was aware a little bit before it was announced, and I think it's fantastic for everyone connected with the club.

"You've seen the reaction from the supporters, it's very positive, they've seen him over the last five or six months play ever so well.

"He's still got loads left in him, in our opinion. To have him here full time and settled, I think he'll come again and go up another level because of that feeling of knowing where he's going to be playing for the next four years.

"I think he is a player that needs to feel wanted, he needs to feel support. Everyone at Villa is playing their part… the owners especially have made him feel really special.

"He feels really happy here, and it's fantastic that he wants to be part of this journey.

"I think you can't underestimate football happiness. In any walk of life, in any job, you've got to get out of bed with a purpose and with a drive and energy to enjoy your role. In football terms, that is to feel support from your team-mates, from your staff, but also from your supporters.

"If you get out of bed every morning and you're playing for an ambitious club where there's a journey and everyone is pushing to move it forward and improve it, and you're a big part of that and you're made to feel welcome and people want to build around you, that's very important in Phil's situation."

Pep Guardiola insisted Manchester City are not experiencing a personality crisis as he aimed a startling put-down at former Manchester United stars Patrice Evra and Dimitar Berbatov.

The City manager was riled by criticism from Evra and Berbatov, now both working as pundits, after City surrendered a winning position to go out at Real Madrid's hands in the Champions League semi-finals.

Evra claimed Guardiola "can’t train people with personality", while Berbatov offered a response that was not far from Guardiola's own assessment, albeit saying City "had to be more concentrated and focused" in the closing moments.

There was also criticism from former Milan and Madrid star Clarence Seedorf, who said City lacked the necessary "mentality" to come through such a test, comparing them to Paris Saint-Germain.

City were 5-3 ahead on aggregate going into the closing minutes against Madrid on May 4, only to concede a quickfire double to Rodrygo, before Karim Benzema hit a penalty winner in extra time.

It was a dizzying turnaround at the Santiago Bernabeu, but City have responded by thrashing Newcastle United 5-0 and picking apart Wolves 5-1 to reassert their Premier League supremacy over Champions League finalists Liverpool.

Guardiola denies City have any issues with their attitude, saying the approach that brought the back-to-back heavy league wins was "the same character that lost to Madrid in the last two or three minutes".

"The former players like Dimitar Berbatov, Clarence Seedorf, Patrice Evra... these type of people they were there," Guardiola told a news conference ahead of City's clash with West Ham on Sunday.

"I played against them and I didn't see this kind of personality when we destroyed them in the Champions League final against United."

That was an apparent reference to Guardiola's Barcelona beating United 2-0 in the 2009 Champions League final, when Evra and Berbatov both featured on the losing team at the Stadio Olimpico as the Catalan giants sealed a treble. The teams also met at the same stage in 2011, but Berbatov was not involved in that game, which the Blaugrana won 3-1.

"[They say] we don't have personality because we concede in the last minutes, and after the last two games we have personality," Guardiola added.

"Personality is what we have done in the last five years. Maybe Liverpool is going to win all four titles or just one. Am I going to say they don't have personality or that they had a bad season?

"Of course they have and of course they are good, but sometimes in football, it happens.

"It is football, you cannot control it. When you always arrive in the latter stages, semi-finals, finals, it is incredible. This for me, because we arrive until the end, playing a lot of games, this is the most important thing."

Pep Guardiola's departure from Barcelona was influenced by his hostile relationship with then-Real Madrid head coach Jose Mourinho, according to Blaugrana defender Gerard Pique. 

Guardiola won 14 trophies – including three league titles and two Champions Leagues – in a four-year spell at Camp Nou, developing a legendary side featuring academy graduates including Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Pique.

However, Guardiola's final season at the helm saw the Catalan giants finish second to Los Blancos in LaLiga, as Mourinho's side broke the league's points tally record by earning 100 points in 2011-12, also scoring a yet-to-be-matched 121 league goals. The points tally was equalled by Tito Vilanova's Barcelona in the following season.

The two coaches clashed repeatedly after the Portuguese coach arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2010, and Pique believes the rivalry "got too much", contributing to Guardiola's decision to leave.

"We were winning everything at the time and I remember that the first time Mourinho came to Camp Nou he lost 5-0 against us [in November 2010]," Pique told Gary Neville on The Overlap. 

"It was a shock of reality that these guys are going hard, but in the press conferences every time he was… you know his style, I think that for Guardiola at some point it was too much.

"It was more important sometimes what happened off the pitch than on the pitch.

"Guardiola left. Madrid won the league that year and all of a sudden, he decided to leave for so many reasons, but I am sure part of it was because with Mourinho it got too much."

After Guardiola's Manchester City team fell to a stunning 6-5 Champions League semi-final defeat to Real Madrid earlier this month, he is tied with Mourinho as the two bosses with the most semi-final eliminations from the competition (six each), while the duo are also the two managers with the most wins in their first 100 Premier League games (both 73).

Pique claimed Mourinho's confrontational style also affected relationships between Barcelona and Madrid players in the Spain international set-up, despite the team winning three consecutive major tournaments between 2008 and 2012.

"Since he arrived, he knew that on the pitch they were weaker than us," Pique said of Mourinho's time with Madrid. "We had a better team for sure, and even the relationships between players [were better].

"I remember going to the national team, and after those games it was tough because Mourinho goes to the mind of the player and he says, 'These guys hate you', then you believe that.

"I was in the dressing room of the national team and said to [Madrid goalkeeper] Iker Casillas, 'Hey Iker', and the guy did not talk to me. At that time, I did not know, but it was the coach, he really knows how to go into the mind."

Asked whether Guardiola enjoyed the rivalry with Mourinho, Pique added: "I don't think so. I remember the semi-final of the Champions League in the Bernabeu [in 2011], he did an amazing press conference, but it was not about football.

"He enjoys talking about what is happening on the pitch, and here there was a moment where the press was focusing on what was happening outside the pitch."

Gerard Pique was left in tears following Lionel Messi's Barcelona exit, but the centre-back says he can understand why his former colleague joined Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi's 21-year association with Barcelona, 16 of those spent as part of the senior squad, came to an end last August when he signed for PSG as a free agent.

The Argentina international won every trophy available with Barca and departed as the club's all-time record scorer with 672 goals across 778 appearances.

Last year's departure came as a huge shock at the time, with the Catalan giants' financial situation meaning they could not agree fresh term under LaLiga's salary restrictions.

Pique and Messi came through Barca's La Masia academy together and spent 13 seasons as first-team regulars after the defender returned from a spell at Manchester United.

In an interview with former United team-mate Gary Neville, Pique opened up on just how tough he found it seeing his close friend move to another club.

"I cried when Messi left. I cried for him," Pique said on The Overlap podcast. "For the career he had at Barca, it would have been great if he had stayed until the end of his career.

"I can understand why he couldn't renew. The club was suffering a lot economically because of the past president and how he managed the club.

"At the end of the day, these are things that happen in life. Sometimes you make a decision and things don't work out.

"For Barcelona and the fans, Messi was like a god. It would have been great if he stayed."

 

Messi was directly involved in 937 goals for Barcelona, with his most prolific season coming in 2011-12 when scoring 73 goals in all competitions and assisting a further 28.

But while the record seven-time Ballon d'Or winner was very much the poster boy for Barca's trophy-laden period, Pique insists Messi could not have done it alone.

"Lionel Messi is the best player in the history of the game," he said.

"Messi was Barcelona's best player. I've always said that we had Messi to win titles, but we also had to have a good team. A single player cannot win titles."

Philippe Coutinho will complete a permanent £17million (€20m) move to Aston Villa from Barcelona at the end of the season, it has been confirmed.

The Brazil international has enjoyed a resurgent half-season loan spell at Villa Park since January and has signed a contract until June 2026 after being effectively frozen out of starting contention at Camp Nou.

The deal, which will see Barca paid 50 per cent of any future sale of the player, brings to a close an unhappy four-and-a-half year tenure with the Blaugrana, who originally signed him in 2018 from Liverpool for a club record nine-figure sum.

Despite success in La Liga in terms of trophies, winning two titles and two Copa del Reys, the playmaker struggled to slot in with the Catalan outfit and spent the 2019-20 season on loan with Bayern Munich, where he won a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble, although the German giants declined to make the move permanent.

It has been his return to England under former Reds team-mate Steven Gerrard that has arguably seen him hit his best form since leaving Anfield, though.

Coutinho has played more than twice as many minutes with Villa than he did with Barca this season, and has notched four goals in 16 appearances for the Midlands club.

Gerrard said: "This is a brilliant signing for Aston Villa. Phil is a model professional and his impact on the group has been very clear since he joined in January. 

"With the way he conducts himself on and off the pitch, he's also a valuable role model for our younger players who can only benefit from his experience. 

"As we look to build towards next season, it is incredible to work at a club that executes its business so decisively and smoothly." 

Paul Pogba's departure from Manchester United at the end of this season has been long assumed.

The French midfielder's 2016 arrival for a second spell at Old Trafford came in a world-record breaking deal, but he has not delivered on the expectations that accompanied the £89million price tag.

As a result, the World Cup winner could well make a return to Juventus, the club where he first came to serious prominence.


TOP STORY – JUVENTUS LINE UP POGBA RETURN

Juventus have made a contract offer they believe puts them in the box seat to sign Paul Pogba, according to the Mirror.

Pogba is set to leave Manchester United when his contract expires at the end of this season, and Juve have reportedly offered an £8million annual salary.

With Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini's impending departures freeing up salary room, the Pogba offer is also said to include a substantial signing-on fee and bonus package to complement the base deal.

The 29-year-old Pogba has missed the Red Devils' past four Premier League games due to calf trouble, and he was absent for two months earlier in the season with a hamstring injury.

ROUND-UP

- Paris Saint-Germain would want to trim their playing squad before considering any more for United's Pogba, RMC Sport is reporting.

- United will seek to replace Pogba by signing cash-strapped Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong, according to Spanish journalist Gerard Romero.

- According to the Telegraph, Tottenham are interested in Everton's RicharlisonAnthony Gordon and Ben Godfrey.

- In order to compensate for Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger's departures, Calciomercato reports Chelsea will look to sign Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly.

Barcelona have released Kays Ruiz-Atil just a year after re-signing the teenager from Paris Saint-Germain.

The 19-year-old returned to Barca last May and was expected to challenge for a first-team place this season.

But Ruiz-Atil, who spent six years in Barcelona's La Masia academy prior to joining PSG in 2015, will depart the club having failed to so much as make a matchday squad.

The Catalan giants confirmed his exit on their official website on Wednesday and wished him luck for the future.

France Under-20 international Ruiz-Atil featured seven times for PSG in Ligue 1 last season, with all but one of those outings coming from the substitutes' bench.

Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo has been discharged after spending a night in hospital following a head injury sustained in Tuesday's 3-1 LaLiga win against Celta Vigo.

Araujo suffered a concussion when clashing heads with team-mate Gavi shortly after the hour mark as both players contested for an aerial ball just inside their own half.

Gavi stayed down, whereas Araujo initially appeared to chase after the ball, only to then collapse to the turf.

Both sets of players urged medical staff to come onto the field, and the 23-year-old received around 10 minutes of treatment before leaving the pitch in an ambulance.

Barca head coach Xavi confirmed shortly after the match that Araujo was "conscious and out of danger" but would spend the night being monitored at a nearby hospital.

In a further update on Wednesday, Barca confirmed Araujo has been discharged from hospital and will be further assessed to determined when he can return to action.

The Uruguay international has played 42 times this term, totalling 3,181 minutes on the field – only Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Frenkie de Jong have played more minutes among outfield Barca players.

Sadio Mane wants to "enjoy every moment" as Liverpool bid for an unprecedented quadruple despite speculation surrounding his future.

Mane joined Liverpool in 2016 and has gone on to become one of Europe's most dangerous forwards under Jurgen Klopp.

After a dip in form in 2020-21, Mane has scored 15 Premier League goals from 33 appearances this season, leaving him joint-fourth on the top scorers' list in the competition alongside team-mate Diogo Jota. 

Indeed, three of the top five scorers in the competition this season are Liverpool players, with Mohamed Salah (22) leading the way ahead of Tottenham's Son Heung-min (20) and Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo (18).

His latest effort came against Aston Villa on Tuesday, as Liverpool came from behind to beat Steven Gerrard's side and move level on points with leaders Manchester City, albeit having played a game more.

Mane, like Salah, is out of contract at the end of next season, however, and there has been speculation linking him with a move away before the 2022-23 campaign.

Bayern Munich and Barcelona are mooted to hold interest in the 30-year-old, who was asked after Tuesday's win if he had been happier at all during his time at Anfield.

"Yeah, sure, when we won the trophies I think I was [happier]," Mane, who has helped Liverpool win a league title, the Champions League, the FIFA Club World Cup and this season's EFL Cup, told Sky Sports.

"But I think I just try to enjoy every moment and try to score and assist for my team-mates.

"I think it is all about the team or nothing, the boys make it easier for me so I am obviously very happy."

After Mane's winner at Villa Park, Liverpool became just the second team in Premier League history to have three players score at least 15 goals in a single campaign, after Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko achieved the feat for Manchester City in 2013-14.

Speaking about Mane potentially switching Merseyside for Munich, Sky Sports pundit and former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher said: "When I have watched Liverpool as a fan, Sadio Mane is my favourite player.

"There is just something about Mane. He's sacrificed himself at times and the shift he puts in.

"He, along with Salah, has been doing that for five years, they are never injured! They are there week in, week out for 90 minutes, getting the numbers up there every week. What they have done for this football club is unbelievable.

"I'm a huge fan of Sadio Mane and I can assure you he will be going nowhere because I will not let him go to Bayern Munich, he'd have me to deal with!"

Sadio Mane has been speculated as a potential Ballon d'Or winner in recent weeks.

And the Liverpool forward is also gathering speculation about his club future.

The 30-year-old helped Senegal win the Africa Cup of Nations in February and has netted 15 goals in Liverpool's Premier League title challenge.

TOP STORY – BARCA TO SWOOP FOR BAYERN TARGET MANE

Barcelona are ready to swoop in to sign Liverpool's Mane amid reported interest from Bayern Munich, Mundo Deportivo claims.

The Senegal international is reportedly interested in a switch and is moving into the final 12 months of his Liverpool contract.

Barcelona have missed out on Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland who will join Manchester City and are determined to land an elite forward this off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich's Serge Gnabry is drawing attention from several clubs, with Real Madrid among the clubs interested, according to Fichajes.

- Newcastle United have made contact with Philippe Coutinho about a move, reports Goal. Coutinho is currently on loan with Aston Villa from Barcelona.

- The Guardian claims that West Ham United are plotting an off-season move for Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins. Villa would demand a £50m fee for the forward.

- Manchester United and Newcastle are both interested in signing Napoli's Victor Osimhen, claims Calciomercato. Napoli want 100m euros (£85.5m) for the Nigerian forward.

- Super Deporte claims that Sevilla are interested in a transfer for Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hopes "with all my heart" that Ousmane Dembele will sign a new deal to stay on at Barcelona.

Dembele is into the final few weeks of his contract and has been widely tipped to join another club as a free agent.

The France international was told publicly to leave Barca by the club during the January transfer window after talks over fresh terms broke down.

But after initially being shut out of the side, Dembele has forced his way back in and has been a consistent performer for the Blaugrana over the past four months.

Indeed, after setting up two goals in Tuesday's 3-1 win over Celta Vigo, Dembele has now assisted a LaLiga-high 13 goals this season.

That includes 11 assists alone since the turn of the year, which is two more than former team-mate Lionel Messi as the most across Europe's top five divisions in 2022.

Aubameyang profited from another of those assists against Celta and has called on Dembele, who he also linked up with at Borussia Dortmund, to remain at Camp Nou.

"He is my little brother," Aubameyang told Movistar+. "We have been together for a long time, from the first day he arrived at Dortmund.

"Over time we have built up this sibling relationship. That's why I love him so much.

"He's doing very well now and I am very happy for him. I hope with all my heart that he stays." 

Dembele is one of three French players since 2006-07 to have provided 13 or more assists in a single season across Europe's top five leagues, along with Kylian Mbappe and Christopher Nkunku. 

 

Aubameyang scored twice for Barca after Memphis Depay had earlier opened the scoring, before Iago Aspas' strike seemingly gave Celta a route back into the match.

That was Aspas' 10th goal in 15 LaLiga games against Barcelona, a tally that only Diego Forlan can match against the Catalan giants in the competition this century.

But Jeison Murillo was dismissed for a foul on Depay and Barca saw out the win, albeit one that was overshadowed by a sickening head injury sustained by Ronald Araujo.

Barca have now won three in a row to all but seal second place in LaLiga, though head coach Xavi was left with mixed feelings as his side were not at their best.

"We didn't play a good game, yet we still got the three points," he said. "The feeling is not overly good. We have to understand what each game requires.

"It was hard for us to understand that we had an extra man. We lacked the neatness that we have asked so much for. But we were effective and continue to fight for second."

Barcelona coach Xavi has confirmed Ronald Araujo "is conscious and out of danger" but will spend the night in hospital after leaving the win against Celta Vigo in an ambulance.

Araujo clashed heads with team-mate Gavi shortly after the hour mark in Tuesday's LaLiga match when contesting an aerial ball just inside their own half.

Gavi stayed down, whereas Araujo initially appeared to chase after the ball, only to then collapse to the turf.

Both sets of players urged medical staff to enter the field, and the 23-year-old received around 10 minutes of treatment before being taken to a nearby hospital.

The incident somewhat overshadowed Barca's 3-1 victory, but Xavi provided a positive update on Araujo's condition shortly after full-time.

"We were scared at first," Xavi told Movistar+. "The doctors have told us he is conscious and out of danger. But he will be spending the rest of the night in the hospital.

"Tomorrow, hopefully, he will be back at home. It's just a scare."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's double, after Memphis Depay had earlier opened the scoring, gave Barca a 3-0 lead against Celta.

Celta recovered from three goals down to draw 3-3 in November's reverse fixture, though, and pulled one back through Iago Aspas at Camp Nou.

However, a red card issued to former Barca loanee Jeison Murillo ultimately ended the visitors' hopes of rescuing another unlikely point.

With his goal, Aspas has now scored 10 times in 15 league games against Barcelona – only Diego Forlan has scored as many against them this century in LaLiga.

Aspas was asked about his goal in his post-match interview, but his immediate focus was the well-being of Araujo.

"Firstly, I want to send a message of encouragement to Ronald. I don't know what happened," he said. "He left on a stretcher, but they have told us that now he is better. 

"At first when I saw the incident, he looked a bit stunned. Then I saw him from the side, with his head down and that's why we called the medics.

"In the game, we have had many more chances than Barcelona, but we weren't effective neither in the rival area nor our own."

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