Robert Lewandowski believes playing under Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich represented the ideal preparation for his move to Barcelona, as he compared Blaugrana boss Xavi to his former coach.

Guardiola was one year into a three-season tenure with the Bavarian giants when Lewandowski joined from rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2014, with the striker scoring 67 goals in 100 appearances under him in all competitions. 

Having ended his Bayern career with 344 goals in all competitions, Lewandowski – one of several new faces at Camp Nou – scored for the first time in Barca colours three minutes into Sunday's 6-0 friendly thrashing of Pumas UNAM.

As Xavi looks to lead Barca to a title challenge in his first full season at the helm, Lewandowski identified similarities between with Manchester City manager Guardiola.

"Guardiola's philosophy and his style of caring for and managing the team, I think, basically was Barca at Bayern Munich," Lewandowski told Sport.

"Xavi is very similar to Guardiola. They were both 'sixes', they worked together. They think about football in the same way.

"With that memory in mind, Barca was the only option for me, and it was a great preparation when I was there.

"I didn't talk to Guardiola before signing. But when I was with him at Bayern, it was like a great preparation to get to Barca one day. 

"All the staff were Spanish, there were eight Spanish players. During that period, I had a very good relationship with Thiago [Alcantara] and Javi Martinez. Both of them congratulated me when I signed for Barca."

Lewandowski made his desire to leave Bayern clear on several occasions before finalising a move to Camp Nou and has reiterated his €45million transfer was primarily motivated by a wish to test himself in Spain.

"I feel like a small child who enters a huge store of new toys," he said. "What I feel in Barcelona so far is pure happiness and motivation to start this new chapter.

"In Munich, I was missing new challenges. I won many titles and I recognise that I felt less and less intensity. I needed another challenge, a boost, a change of environment.

"I've always wanted to play in LaLiga, live in Spain, see what life is like here. Twelve years in Germany is a long time. 

"I achieved everything there. I didn't want to stand in front of the mirror in 12 years and say to myself: 'Why haven't you tried?' There would be a lot of unanswered questions."

Lewandowski will hope to make his competitive Barcelona debut when they host Rayo Vallecano in their LaLiga opener on Saturday, with president Joan Laporta confident the Blaugrana will be able to register their new arrivals despite ongoing financial concerns.

 

Frenkie de Jong appears likely to remain at Barcelona for this season, if the comments from club president Joan Laporta after their side's 6-0 pre-season win against Pumas are to be believed.

De Jong scored the sixth goal in the rout, coming off the bench at half-time and finding the net in the 84th minute.

He has been one of the main names featured in transfer rumours this off-season, with Barcelona's questionable finances making it seem like the club would have to part ways with the 25-year-old Dutch international to fund their sizeable moves for Leeds United winger Raphinha, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde.

However, having been outspoken about his desire to remain at Camp Nou, it now seems more likely he will not be sold during this transfer window, with Laporta saying before the match against Pumas that it is what both parties want.

"Frenkie is our player and we want him to stay at Barcelona," he said. "He wants to stay, too.

"With him and his teammates, we have a very powerful midfield. He has offers, but we want him to stay."

After the match, Xavi was less emphatic about De Jong's future when interviewed by TV3, but insisted that he's "counting on" the midfielder this season.

"I don’t know what will happen to Frenkie, as until August 31st anything can happen," he said.

"He knows what I think, and what the club want and need. Of course I’m counting on him, he’s a great player."

Barcelona will open their LaLiga campaign at home against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

Pedri described playing with Robert Lewandowski as a "luxury" after both players starred in Barcelona's 6-0 demolition of Pumas UNAM in the Joan Gamper trophy on Sunday.

The Blaugrana ran riot in their traditional Camp Nou curtain-raiser, with goals from Pedri (two), Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembele, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Frenkie de Jong condemning the Mexican side to a crushing loss.

Barca took just 20 minutes to establish a 4-0 lead as Pedri scored twice after laying on new signing Lewandowski's opener, with the Poland striker returning the favour to tee up the skilful midfielder's second strike.

Lewandowski – who scored 50 goals in all competitions during his final season with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich last term – was named as man of the match, leading Pedri to shower him with praise. 

"It was important for us to win in front of our fans and we have achieved it by playing a good game," the midfielder said.

"The coach asks us all to reach the top and that we score goals, and I hope it continues like this. We've had a good pre-season and we wanted to start scoring soon.

"It is a luxury to play with Lewandowski, I really enjoy seeing how he finishes and how he links up.

"The president [Joan Laporta] and everyone have done a great job, and we will fight until May for it to be a very beautiful year for us all."

With Lewandowski joining Franck Kessie, Andreas Christensen, Jules Kounde and Raphinha in moving to Camp Nou ahead of the 2022-23 season, hopes are high that Barca can challenge for silverware – even if speculation persists that they may be unable to register their newcomers.

For Xavi, the performance against Pumas – for whom Barca legend Dani Alves featured – represented the standard the Catalan giants must hit in every match.

"Everything went well tonight, I'm very happy with the good game and for the fans, who have been excited. This is the way," Xavi declared.

"We are in a good dynamic of play and results, but we have to continue working for this to work. The sensations are good, yes, but there is no need to lower the pace or the intensity during the 90 minutes.

"Today it is understood that we relaxed a bit because we were 4-0 very early and it was a friendly, but in official competition you cannot lower your guard."

Barca begin their LaLiga campaign at home to Rayo Vallecano next Saturday.

Barcelona coach Xavi is confident Robert Lewandowski will soon find his rhythm at the club, having failed to find the net in pre-season.

The Poland international is one of Barcelona's marquee additions for the 2022-23 season, joining from Bayern Munich, and arrives with an established reputation as one of Europe's deadliest finishers.

Goals have not come in preparation for the new season, but Xavi is not concerned and believes there have been some encouraging signs already.

"The positive is that he has had all those opportunities, I am sure he will mark them," he said following Barcelona's win against the New York Red Bulls.

"In training, they go in; today, they have not gone in. I am convinced that they will go in, I trust him. 

"It happened with Luis Suarez, Ferran [Torres] last year. He's going to have chances to score; tonight he's had them, that's the positive part."

There could yet be further transfer business at Camp Nou, as Frenkie de Jong continues to be of interest to Manchester United.

Xavi has insisted playing De Jong at centre-back in a previous friendly was not a "signal" he was to leave, although the coach has almost finalised plans for his first-team squad.

"I don't know if there will be more [signings], it all depends on the financial fair play and the finances," Xavi said. "There will be exits, and I've been clear about that.

"I think I'm 99 per cent sure about [the final squad list], and most players know, too. We have spoken to the players whose future we've decided."

Xavi has given a strong indication Barcelona will make a sensational move to sign Lionel Messi next year.

Barca boss Xavi stated earlier this week that it would be "impossible" for the Catalan giants to bring club legend Messi back to Camp Nou during this transfer window, given he is under contract with Paris Saint-Germain.

The Argentina captain joined PSG on a two-year deal last year after sensationally ending his 21-year stay with the Blaugrana, who could not afford to keep him.

Barca president Joan Laporta on Thursday declared that he thinks the LaLiga giants "will make this aspiration a reality" when asked about the prospect of signing Messi.

Xavi wants his former team-mate to return to Barcelona, but says it will not happen while he is contracted to the Ligue 1 champions.

He said: "Now he has a contract, it's a utopia, we're going to focus on this year. Obviously, I would like Leo's time at Barca not to end the way he did and for him to have one last chance to say goodbye as the best in history.

"Of course I would like to, yes, I would like it to happen, but he has a contract."

Xavi has been given great backing in the transfer market ahead of the 2022-23 season, with Barca splashing out on Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde

Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen have also arrived on free transfers and Xavi wants further additions.

He said: "Everything that is reinforced is good. I already said that there should be two players per position, more this year with the World Cup.

"We need footballers to compete and to be better. Yes, we want to reinforce ourselves more, the more the better."

Xavi has shown faith in the "different" Ousmane Dembele and Miralem Pjanic to play important roles for his sides, following Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Juventus on Tuesday.

Pjanic made a strong first appearance for the pre-season while Dembele scored a poised brace and performed well despite the result, reflecting the confidence shown in him since Xavi took over as Barcelona's head coach last November.

The 25-year-old's first of the night was a particularly impressive solo action, showing his trademark dexterity on a mazy dribble, wriggling his way past three Juve defenders before finishing from an acute angle.

The Barca boss demanded more consistency from the France international post-match, but is buoyed by both his talent and new-found enthusiasm after extending his contract.

"He has shown what he is capable of, making a difference from the right wing with one-on-two actions," Xavi said afterwards. "He is a different player, special and he gives us a lot.

"He has to make a difference, be more consistent, score more goals. I don't know Dembele from before but since I've arrived, I see him happy and he always tells me that he's involved in the project. I see him like that since November, that's why I insisted so much on to stay."

The 42-year-old also saved special mention for another polarising figure among Barcelona fans, Miralem Pjanic, who made his first appearance for the club upon returning from a loan spell at Besiktas.

When asked about the midfielder's performance, the similarly cerebral Xavi was effusive in his assessment.

"I liked it a lot," Xavi said. "He gives us a lot with the ball, he found the interiors very well. He has an exclusive vision of football in general, because there aren't many who see the game like that with their first touch.

"He always looks forward, looks very well for the pass to nine. He has played a great game."

Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic is hoping to kickstart his Camp Nou career after being given the opportunity to play under head coach Xavi, who he considers a "role model".

Pjanic's days at Barca appeared to be numbered when he was loaned to Besiktas last season, having struggled to hold down a starting spot upon arriving from Juventus in 2020.

Xavi has since replaced Ronald Koeman in the Barca managerial hotseat, however, and Pjanic appears to be part of the legendary former midfielder's plans for the coming season.

The 32-year-old featured in the recent friendly with Olot and is part of the Catalan giants' squad for their pre-season tour of the United States, though he did not play any minutes in Saturday's win against Real Madrid.

Pjanic still has two years to run on his contract and is excited to work with Xavi, who enjoyed a positive first six months in charge during the second half of last season to finish second in LaLiga.

"Xavi has always been a role model of a midfielder for me," Pjanic told reporters. "I have followed him with admiration. For me, he is one of the best midfielders of all time in the world, so working with him is very special.

"In the last two years, I have struggled with injuries, COVID-19, and went out on loan. But now it's different. I am convinced that I can get back to my best. I've been working with a physical trainer this summer."

Asked about his Barca future, Pjanic added: "I have a contract until 2024. This year we will be working with our new teacher Xavi. I hope it will be a very good season for the team and for me."

Barcelona face Pjanic's former club Juventus in their third pre-season outing at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Tuesday, before rounding off their tour of the USA against New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

 

Xavi acknowledged a Barcelona return for Lionel Messi is "impossible" at present but refused to rule out a reunion in future, as he rejected comparisons between himself and two legendary Blaugrana coaches.

Messi's 21-year association with Barcelona came to an end last August when he joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer amid the Catalan club's financial woes.

However, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner's six league goals during his debut campaign in Paris represented his worst such tally since he netted the same amount in LaLiga as an 18-year-old in 2005-06.

Messi has just one year remaining on his contract in the French capital – though an option exists for a further 12 months with PSG – and Barcelona president Joan Laporta said on Sunday he did not believe the Argentine's Barca story was over.

His former team-mate and current Barcelona coach Xavi, however, told a news conference such a move was unfeasible, at least for now. 

"He has a contract and it's impossible right now," Xavi said, looking ahead to Barca's friendly with Juventus in Dallas on Tuesday.

"Messi is the best footballer in the world and in history. President Laporta already said that Messi's story with Barca is not over, but now is not the time to talk about it."

 

On a personal level, Xavi has enjoyed success since returning to Barcelona as head coach last November, leading the side to a second-placed league finish after they had languished in ninth under predecessor Ronald Koeman.

Barca are now expected to challenge for silverware after acquiring the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha, but Xavi insists he does not seek comparisons with legendary Blaugrana bosses Pep Guardiola and Johan Cruyff. 

"I don't have the idea of equalling Pep, what I want is for Barca to win," he added.

"It's not a question of ego, I don't want to beat Pep or Johan or anyone. On the contrary, I have nurtured myself from them, I am a student of theirs. 

"My dream is to return Barca to the top of the world."

Despite their perilous financial situation, Barcelona have recruited heavily throughout the transfer window, and with Sevilla and France defender Jules Kounde reportedly also close to joining, their spending does not look likely to stop any time soon.

And Xavi believes the capture of Lewandowski demonstrates the lure of the Catalan giants, adding: "It's not for me, it's for the club. What I do is speak clearly with the players. 

"Everything adds up, but I would say that the club is the one that has strength, its greatness is a magnet for footballers. 

"People are excited to play at Barca, the fact that players of the stature of Lewandowski want to come proves it."

Robert Lewandowski has made a strong first impression at Barcelona, with manager Xavi calling him "an unbelievable signing".

Lewandwoski made his first appearance for his new club in their 1-0 friendly win against Real Madrid on Saturday, starting up top before being subbed off at half-time.

The 2021 Ballon d'Or runner-up is coming off seven consecutive seasons of at least 40 goals in club competition, with Barcelona hoping he is still at the peak of his powers despite turning 34 years old next month.

Speaking to the media about the club's new front-man, Xavi had nothing but praise.

"[Lewandowski] has adapted really well," he said. "He's very humble – he's won almost everything in the world of football. 

"He has the humility to work hard for the team, and for us he's an unbelievable signing. So really good, really happy to have Robert in the team, and [against Madrid] he adapted really well. 

"He controlled the ball when Madrid pressed high, he understood really well when it was his moment to control and play for the attacking midfielders or for the defensive midfielder. 

"He went deep many times, so we are talking about the top player in the world of football."

Barcelona boss Xavi insists he was not trying to send any message to Frenkie de Jong by playing him out of position in defence after being subbed on at half-time in their 1-0 friendly win against Real Madrid.

De Jong, 25, has been at the centre of Barcelona's transfer discussions this off-season, with the widespread belief that the club must sell him to balance their books after expensive moves for Leeds United winger Raphinha and Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.

The Dutch international is not totally inexperienced in defence, but he is undoubtedly more comfortable in the centre of midfield, but with plenty of competition for that position, Xavi said he was simply taking advantage of De Jong's versatility.

"No, I didn't send any messages," he said. "I think [De Jong] can be adapted. 

"The message is personal and already chatted with him. He knows he is valued. I value him a lot as a footballer – he knows… for me, he is a fundamental footballer for the team's game. 

"Then, I insist, there is an economic situation in the club, the situation of [financial] fair play, but for me there is no doubt that he is a very important footballer, and playing as a central defender he can give us many things. 

"We have signed Andreas [Chistensen], we also have Eric [Garcia], we have Gerard [Pique], we have Ronald [Araujo] there, who can also adapt as a full-back.

"We now have a lot of competition and that is good for the team, but Frenkie can adapt very well as a centre-back. He sees the game very well when he controls the ball, he doesn't lose the ball and I like it. 

"No, that position is not a message. I would never do it as a coach."

Barcelona's next friendly is against Juventus on Tuesday.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has rubbished reports the club have accepted an offer from Manchester United for midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

Erik ten Hag is keen to reunite with the 25-year-old, whom he managed at Ajax, and United have been pushing to bring the Netherlands international to Old Trafford.

The financial situation of Barcelona has been identified as a reason why the Catalan side may be tempted to sell, with reports stating the club have accepted an offer from the Premier League side but De Jong himself is yet to be persuaded by a move.

Such claims have been refuted by Laporta, who made it clear to ESPN that no bids for De Jong have been accepted.

"Frenkie de Jong is our player, we really like him," he said.

"We received some offers for Frenkie but we didn't accept as of now, as we want to talk with him and know exactly what he wants. We need to clarify some aspects of his situation."

Laporta's stance on De Jong was echoed by Xavi, although the Barcelona coach admitted the financial situation could affect the proceedings heading into the final month of the transfer window.

"I’m not here to send messages. I already spoke with Frenkie, I value him very much. He's a key player, but then there's economic situation and Financial Fair Play," he said following Barcelona's 1-0 pre-season win against Real Madrid.

Xavi also dropped a hint on plans to utilise De Jong's versatility next season, adding: "He can give us a lot also as a centre back."

Barcelona boss Xavi has claimed there are "no friendlies" for the Blaugrana, while sidestepping questions over a potential move for Sevilla's Jules Kounde.

The Catalan club continued their pre-season preparations in the United States with a 1-0 victory in an overseas iteration of El Clasico against Real Madrid, thanks to a glorious strike from new recruit Raphinha in Las Vegas.

With Robert Lewandowski handed a club debut, the future continues to look rosy for Barca as they seek to reverse two years of diminishing gains with a high-risk transfer policy to reclaim their crown in La Liga.

Part of that process comes down to a mental belief that every game is there to be won, per their coach, who says that even pre-season tests cannot be interpreted as kick-about games.

"There are no friendlies at Barcelona," Xavi stated after his side triumphed over their rivals. "[We want to] win titles again. Everyone starts from scratch - we don't go by your name."

Asked about Kounde - who looks set to move to Chelsea amid talk of Barca hijacking the transfer - the Spaniard sidestepped a direct answer, merely adding: "We are trying to strengthen all the positions."

Xavi was happier to wax lyrical about Raphinha and Lewandowski, with the two attacking talents the most significant fruits of Barca's transfer dealings, having arrived from Leeds and Bayern Munich respectively.

"[Raphinha] makes a difference," he added. "He's dynamic on the wings. Robert is a world-class star who has adapted very quickly. They'll give competition to the rest of the squad - they'll have to wake up soon."

Barcelona continue their pre-season campaign with another heavyweight European clash against Juventus in Dallas on Tuesday, before wrapping up their American tour against New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

Robert Lewandowski made his debut for Barcelona as they defeated Real Madrid 1-0 in their pre-season friendly in Las Vegas on Saturday.

The 33-year-old had to share the spotlight with Raphinha however, with the latter's lone goal ultimately proving the difference in the 27th minute.

With Xavi also able to take his place on the touchlines after he was allowed entry into the United States, the Blaugrana started close to what could be considered a full-strength starting XI, with Andreas Christensen starting ahead of Gerard Pique.

Carlo Ancelotti kept a number of starters on the bench to begin the match, with the trio of Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos eased in along with Ferland Mendy, while Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga were paired in midfield to start.

Raphinha scored what would be the winning goal midway through the first half in what was an ultimately timid affair, firing home from the top of the penalty area after a quick regain of possession up the pitch for Barcelona.

Modric, Kroos and Casemiro were introduced while the likes of Pedri and Sergio Busquets came off in the second half, creating the aura of a sparring match, and Barcelona held out despite chances to Ousmane Dembele.

Caretaker Barcelona boss Oscar Hernandez conceded it will be the "first and last time" he runs a game from the touchlines, after his side's 6-0 win over Inter Miami on Tuesday.

There were six different goal scorers for Barca as they played the opening game of their tour in the United States, with Gavi, Memphis Depay and Ousmane Dembele adding to first half-goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Raphinha and Ansu Fati.

With Xavi denied entry into the US reportedly after recent visits to Iran in the past five years with Qatari club Al-Sadd as a player and coach, his assistant was tasked with taking over on match day.

The 45-year-old, who was also an assistant at Al-Sadd, said post-match that he hopes his brother's issues can be resolved quickly, with Barcelona still to play Real Madrid, Juventus and New York Red Bulls.

Nevertheless, he was content with Barca's performance.

"Hopefully it will be my first and last game," Hernandez said. "The situation is not easy for Xavi, but let's hope a solution is found and tomorrow he can be with us.

"We are very happy, because despite being a friendly, things have been seen. Those at the front have been very switched on and deploying mechanisms that we have worked on. We have to create competitiveness and that is how we will grow."

After confirming his transfer from Bayern Munich on Saturday, Robert Lewandowski did not make an appearance but the older Hernandez sibling believes he will an influential addition going forward.

"With his arrival we make a huge leap in quality, because he is a top player in the world," he said.

"The club has made a great effort, but we needed a top player. In addition, he is a footballer with a lot of commitment.

"For Xavi and the coaching staff it is a blessing to have so many forwards, because competitiveness is going to make the team grow.

Hernandez also saved special mention for Ansu Fati, who missed significant amounts of last season due to hamstring injuries.

Along with making it 3-0, the 19-year-old was impressive on Tuesday, providing Barcelona with dynamism they sorely lacked in the last campaign.

"It's like a new signing and a signing at a very high level," the assistant said. "He's growing a lot, physically he's getting better and better and we're very happy, because he's a reference."

Robert Lewandowski declared it was time for Barcelona to "get back on track" after securing his long-awaited move to Camp Nou, as the Poland international revealed he had always dreamed of playing in LaLiga.

Barcelona confirmed on Saturday they had reached an agreement in principle to sign Lewandowski from Bayern Munich, before completing a deal reportedly worth €50million for the 33-year-old on Sunday.

Lewandowski scored 50 goals across all competitions as Bayern won a 10th consecutive Bundesliga title last term, but made his desire to join the Catalan giants clear at the end of the season.

The 33-year-old leaves Bayern having scored 312 Bundesliga goals, a tally only bettered by legendary striker Gerd Muller (365), and will provide a new focal point for a Barcelona team which scored 12 goals fewer than LaLiga champions Real Madrid last season. 

Having joined his new Blaugrana team-mates in Florida ahead of a friendly against Inter Miami, Lewandowski has targeted restoring Barcelona to the top of the Spanish game, with the league title having evaded the club since 2018-19.

"Finally I'm here, I'm very happy," Lewandowski told the club's media channels. "The last few days were very long days but in the end, the deal is done, so I can focus on a new chapter in my life, a new challenge.

"I am always the guy who wants to win, not only the games but the titles, so I hope from the beginning of the season we're going to start by winning, and go to [win] titles at the end of the season.

"I always wanted to play in LaLiga, I wanted to play for the big clubs.

"Now it's my next step, this opportunity that I had. Also for my private life, it's a new challenge, a new life.

"It's time to get [Barcelona] back on track and that's why I'm here, to help Barcelona be on top and win as many titles as possible.

"For me, the goals are always high. We have so many good players with amazing quality, and we know that with this team we can achieve a lot this season, I'm sure it's going to be like that."

 

Lewandowski joins the likes of Franck Kessie, Andreas Christensen and Raphinha in signing for Barcelona in this transfer window as Xavi looks to reshape his squad after finishing a distant second to Madrid in LaLiga last season.

And the striker believes Xavi is the ideal man to revive Barca after a difficult few seasons, as he revealed he had been in contact with the former midfielder throughout his transfer saga.

"I was speaking with Xavi, from the beginning I knew that his idea was going in a good way, with this idea it was easy for me to decide to come to Barcelona," he added.

"I know I'm the guy who wants to play, to win, and I think with Xavi it's very possible. 

"He knows exactly how to coach Barcelona because he was amazing player, now he's also a very good coach with an amazing future and I want to be part of this as well."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.