Barcelona head coach Xavi warned his side will face a "dangerous" opponent in Cadiz on Saturday, making it clear he is not yet considering the upcoming test against Bayern Munich.

The Catalan giants will travel to Bavaria for a huge Champions League clash in Group C, with both sides having won their respective opening fixtures against Viktoria Plzen and Inter.

Tuesday's fixture will also see Robert Lewandowski, who scored a hat-trick on his European debut for Barcelona, return to face the side he recently departed and that adds further intrigue to the game.

Xavi, however, is focusing on Saturday's LaLiga away clash against Cadiz and is expecting a difficult encounter, with Barcelona's opponents desperate to secure a first win of the season.

"It's a difficult, rocky, very defensive opponent. It's been tough for us the last four games, we haven't beaten them. Good day for football revenge," Xavi said in Friday's press conference.

Indeed, Cadiz have won two and drawn two of their last four against Barcelona in LaLiga, but this season they have been slow starters, losing four in a row to sit bottom of the Spanish top flight, in which Barcelona hold down second spot.

"They haven't won, but that makes them more dangerous, they will come out more aggressive," Xavi said. "It's a difficult place to go, one of those which [can decide who] wins the league. Here they secured their safety [from relegation] last year, they work very well even if they have not started very well.

"We are focused on the Cadiz alone. I understand the euphoria, but this has just begun. We have to be humble, we play for three very important points, and we are waiting to win against Cadiz, not thinking about Bayern.

"It's not difficult to manage, there are experienced players as well as young players, and they're all motivated and plugged in, I need them all."

Xavi echoed that sentiment when asked about Real Madrid losing Karim Benzema due to injury, with the first Clasico of the season coming up next month.

"We are waiting for the Cadiz game. Neither of Benzema, nor of [Antoine] Griezmann, nor of debates, I think of Cadiz, of how to play them, surprise them," Xavi said.

"We are looking out for ourselves, not the rest. If I'm looking out for others, we're going [to do] badly."

Ousmane Dembele has shown the same ability to beat defenders as Neymar did in his Barcelona prime, according to head coach Xavi.

The French winger delivered three assists on Wednesday as Barcelona hammered Viktoria Plzen 5-1 in their Champions League group opener, an ideal result ahead of tougher tests against Bayern Munich and Inter.

Robert Lewandowski grabbed a hat-trick, with Dembele setting up the striker's second as well as goals for Franck Kessie and Ferran Torres.

It is remarkable to think that Barcelona and Dembele were in a fractious stand-off barely eight months ago, which at one point saw the club tell the winger to leave amid a contract row.

He has since signed a new deal at Camp Nou, giving club and player security through to 2024, and his form on the wing has been largely outstanding.

"I don't want to throw flowers, but the ability he has in one-on-one situations is at the level of the best Neymar," said Xavi, who played alongside Neymar for Barcelona.

The only aspect where Xavi would ask more of Dembele is in pushing to add to his goals tally.

"He has to dare more to shoot at goal and score," said Xavi. "He's a good boy and he has to take advantage of these characteristics. He's here to make a difference and he's doing it."

Neymar left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 and remains with the French giants.

His prowess in front of goal is something Dembele can only aspire to, as despite Xavi's assertions there is a huge gulf between Neymar's output and Dembele's own.

Since the start of 2022, Dembele and Neymar have played a similar number of minutes across all competitions (Dembele – 1,814; Neymar – 1,681) and Dembele edges the assists comparison 13-11 but is 66-62 behind on chances created.

However, their form in terms of finishing has been strikingly different, with Neymar scoring 19 goals and Dembele managing just three. That is despite Dembele attempting 68 shots to Neymar's 54.

Of that high shot tally, Dembele only hit the target 15 times, while Neymar has done so on 31 occasions.

Neymar is exceeding his expected goals (xG) tally of 12.44, while Dembele's xG of 4.99 suggests his shots are often coming from areas where it is highly unlikely he would score. The xG metric looks at the quality of a chance and the likelihood of it resulting in a goal.

Neymar's shots-to-goals conversion rate is an excellent 35.19 per cent, while Dembele is found lagging on 4.41 per cent.

Barcelona coach Xavi is overjoyed by Robert Lewandowski's start at the club, referring to him as "insatiable" after terrorising Viktoria Plzen.

The 34-year-old was in ruthless form on Wednesday, scoring a hat-trick as Barca thrashed their visitors 5-1 at Camp Nou.

Playing his first Champions League game for Barca, Lewandowski netted two sumptuous 20-yard strikes either side of a stooping header, with the hosts comfortable throughout.

Wednesday's treble ensured Lewandowski became the first player to net a Champions League hat-trick for three clubs, having scored four for Bayern Munich and one with Borussia Dortmund.

But Lewandowski's display was not a real shock given his strong start to life in LaLiga, and everything about his first few weeks at Barca has left Xavi amazed.

"Robert is like that, he's insatiable. I'm delighted with how he trains, how he improves the team," Xavi told Movistar.

"He's humble, he expects [of his team-mates] and he does a great job of pressing.

"It's not just the hat-trick anymore, it's his work and how he dominates."

Lewandowski was not the only Barca player to impress, however – had the Pole not scored a hat-trick, most would have seen Ousmane Dembele as the standout performer.

The France international was dazzling at times on the right flank.

It was only the second time in a Barcelona shirt that Dembele has laid on five key passes in a single game, and two of those resulted in assists.

Dembele was in devastating form in the second half of last season, and Xavi feels the winger is having fun at Camp Nou.

"He is happy, enjoying himself," the coach added. "He is a player who makes a difference – he assists and scores goals. He is a dagger down the wing."

Barcelona's three first-half goals on Wednesday ensured they have already scored more than the two they managed in the whole group stage last term.

But a tricky trip to face Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena awaits next week.

Xavi believes Barcelona can end an eight-year wait for Champions League glory this season as he told his players to "dream" of lifting the trophy.

The head coach sends his side into their opener against Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday, desperate for them to avoid a repeat of the last campaign's group-stage exit.

Barcelona finished behind Bayern Munich and Benfica, with Xavi appointed midway through that group campaign after Ronald Koeman was sacked.

The serious damage had been done by a 3-0 loss at Benfica, and Xavi could not drag Barcelona through to the knockout rounds.

However, he has had two busy transfer windows since then and Barcelona are a new-look and refreshed team, with much of their previous baggage shaken off.

Last season's failure in Europe inevitably hurt more when Barcelona's great rivals Real Madrid went on to beat Liverpool in the final, but Xavi wants to move on.

"The main target now is to get through the group stage," said Xavi, "then we'll see.

"Dreaming is free so why can't we win this competition? But we have to start by taking the three points tomorrow."

Xavi was a substitute in the final of the 2014-15 Champions League when Barcelona beat Juventus 3-1 in Berlin, thanks to goals from Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

Now directing matters from the touchline, he is reluctant to predict how Barcelona will fare, but says there is no harm in having lofty goals.

"We are going to compete and dream of winning the Champions League, otherwise I wouldn't be here," Xavi said. "I want to win. We have to be very humble. Since 2015 we haven't won the Champions League and last year we went into the Europa League.

"You have to think that every game is going to be a war. We have had a very difficult group."

With Bayern and Inter alongside Barcelona and Plzen in Group C, Xavi's remark certainly stands up to scrutiny. Although it may not play out this way, Plzen will be seen as the team the big three must beat, before thrashing out the top places.

Xavi spoke highly of Plzen's counter-attacking qualities, but anything other than three points at Camp Nou would be majorly anti-climactic.

"This is the Champions League and we want to start well. It is the most difficult group in recent years, but we want to go through and reach the last 16," Xavi said.

The Barcelona boss will look towards Robert Lewandowski to propel the Catalans through to the knockout rounds, after his previous success for Bayern in the competition.

Lewandowski has scored more goals than any other player in the Champions League across the last three seasons, with 33 goals in 26 games.

Should he score against Plzen, it would make him only the third player to score for both Barcelona and Bayern in the competition, after Mark van Bommel and Philippe Coutinho.

Lewandowski netted nine goals in five home games for Bayern in the Champions League last season, which might augur well for Wednesday.

Xavi will be without Miralem Pjanic, with the midfielder bound for Sharjah FC, and is set to make changes from the side that beat Sevilla 3-0 in LaLiga on Saturday.

"There will be rotation," Xavi said, confirming the likes of Jordi Alba and Ansu Fati could step up from their weekend substitute roles. "There is tiredness and discomfort. The match against Sevilla was a war.

"Let's compete in the Champions League and dream of winning it. In our history we have won it five times. We'll try to compete to go as far as we can."

Xavi says the manner in which Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 victory over fragile Sevilla is a "good sign."

Raphinha opened the scoring with his first Barca goal and Robert Lewandowski's fifth in three LaLiga games doubled their lead in the first half.

Eric Garcia increased their advantage with his first senior goal at the Ramen Sanchez-Pizjuan, where Jules Kounde provided two assists against his former club, and the Blaugrana really ought to have won by a more emphatic margin.

There were whistles from furious Sevilla fans following a defeat that left them with only one point from four matches, while Barca are second behind Real Madrid following a third win in a row.

The Catalan giants have scored 11 goals in three matches and a new-look side look like they can be the great entertainers this season, with such much quality going forward.

Barca head coach Xavi said: "We have had chances to score more goals. It's a good sign to come to Sevilla and impose ourselves, the team is in a very good moment."

Ousmane Dembele caused a fragile Sevilla side all sorts of problems before he was withdrawn in the second half and Xavi was delighted with the impact the winger made.

"I know what Ousmane is capable of, he is a player whose attitude I really like, not only in attack but also in defence." he said.

Xavi also picked out Gavi for praise following an influential display from the teenage midfielder.

He said: "I'm not surprised, I see him training every day and I see what he's capable of. It'' wonderful, maybe he was the best player in the game."


Barcelona have landed defender Marcos Alonso from Chelsea as part of the latter's deal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with the left-back joining on a one-year deal and a release clause set at €30million.

The 31-year-old, who arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2016, was a Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League winner with the Blues during his six-year tenure in London.

Having previously played in the English top-flight for Bolton Wanderers, and then Sunderland during a loan spell from Fiorentina, the 31-year-old returns to LaLiga for the first time in over a decade.

A product of the Castilla academy system at Real Madrid, Alonso only played one competitive game for the club before he left for England in 2010.

His arrival comes following the termination of his contract with Chelsea, which came following the Blues' capture of Aubameyang - bringing an end to his short spell in Catalonia.

He is the second defensive arrival at the end of the transfer window, with Hector Bellerin having arrived from Arsenal on Thursday after similarly seeing his contract cut-short.

Alonso has been handed the number 17 shirt at the club, with Bellerin given number two, and neither player was signed in time to feature in this weekend's LaLiga clash with Sevilla.

Barcelona "made a tremendous effort" in the transfer window, according to head coach Xavi, who also confirmed the imminent signing of Marcos Alonso.

Barca recruited heavily during the transfer window, welcoming a wealth of major recruits from across Europe.

The club's well-documented financial troubles forced them to find creative solutions to register players such as Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde, while they also moved for several free transfers in the market.

Former academy player Hector Bellerín returned on Thursday following his release by Arsenal, while it is expected that Marcos Alonso will join by the end of Friday after his contract was terminated by Chelsea.

Ahead of his side's trip to Sevilla, Xavi expressed his delight with Barca's transfer progress at a press conference on Friday.

"The club has made a tremendous effort," he said. "We have a competitive squad, we need to prove it. We are very happy and satisfied with where we are.

"[It] has lacked some players, [but I am] happy and satisfied. [It has been] between the best and the intermediate [outcome]."

He also confirmed the expected arrival of Alonso, adding: "I wanted full-backs. What we needed more was a right-back. Bellerín is going to help us a lot, and Alonso too. I'm delighted with both signings.

"The registration of Alonso? Yes, we are optimistic that everything will be resolved today before midnight. We are convinced that he can be registered for the Champions League."

When we talk about footballers "returning to haunt" their former employers, conversation generally focuses on strikers – or, at the very least players who score against their old teams.

But Jules Kounde just needs to be present for there to be a degree of longing or jealousy in the air at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan on Saturday, as Sevilla host Barcelona.

The France defender actually left Sevilla on good terms, with the club – and most fans – fully aware they had enjoyed a player of such quality for far longer than they'd ordinarily expect to, particularly when you consider Los Nervionenses' reputation as the selling club to end all selling clubs.

The only real gripe among Sevilla fans was the fee, with the initial €50million – plus €12.5m in add-ons – somewhat on the low side when you consider the other fees changing hands this year. Nevertheless, it was a club-record sale.

Over his three years in Seville, Kounde developed into one of the world's most-promising centre-backs, one capable of getting fans out of their seats, even.

Having finally been registered to play in LaLiga ahead of last weekend's 3-0 win over Real Valladolid, Kounde's second game with Barca sees him return to familiar surroundings – "too soon," some sheepish Sevilla fans will be saying.

Reminder of what Sevilla had

As good as Kounde was for Sevilla, it must be remembered he was very much one half of a partnership. He and Diego Carlos will probably be regarded by many supporters as the best centre-backs in the club's history – they just so happened to arrive and depart at roughly the same time.

Over the three seasons Sevilla had Kounde and Diego Carlos as their first-choice centre-backs, their defensive record was among the best in Europe.

Only Manchester City (57) and Real Madrid (52) kept more clean sheets than Sevilla (51) among teams in the top five leagues. Similarly, just five teams conceded fewer league goals (excluding own goals) than their 94 – including Paris Saint-Germain (85) and Lille (91), who each played at least 10 games less – and their expected goals against (xGA – 115.7) was the seventh lowest. Again, three of the clubs above them played 10 or more games less.

What makes this even more remarkable is that over the previous three seasons, Sevilla's 152 goals conceded saw them rank 51st out of the 74 teams to play at least 102 top-flight games over that period.

Julen Lopetegui's pragmatic, possession-based system undoubtedly helped, and there was a particular subtlety to it that allowed Kounde to really show his strengths.

Fernando, their defensive midfielder, plays deep enough to almost act as a third centre-back at times, and that gave Kounde the opportunities to move forward with the ball, safe in the knowledge he had cover in behind him.

As a defensive triumvirate, there was very little they lacked. Fernando offered protection and positional sense; Diego Carlos possessed great strength and composure on the ball; Kounde provided athleticism, drive and excellent distribution.

With Diego Carlos moving to Aston Villa in June, Fernando is the only one remaining. Sevilla's efforts to replace them had Monchi – presumably as a coincidence – going with another Brazilian-French combination in Marcao and Tanguy Nianzou, but the former is yet to play through injury and the latter has looked shaky alongside the unimpressive Karim Rekik.

In the early weeks of this season, the absence of Kounde and Diego Carlos has been glaring because their excellence at the back helped mask Sevilla's deficiencies going forward in the past. Over the previous three seasons, their 145 goals scored saw them rank 33rd among teams in the top five leagues, but they failed to really address that in pre-season and have begun the campaign with three defeats in four games.

Few would be surprised if Barca pile on the misery.

The archetypal Barcelona centre-back?

Few teams compare to Barcelona when it comes to appreciation of possession, so making the transition to a side that expects to control every single match can be a challenge.

But, theoretically, Kounde couldn't have had better preparation for such an environment. Over his three years in Spain, Sevilla were second in LaLiga for average share of possession at 59.7 per cent, with Barca (65.8 per cent) the only team seeing more of the ball.

The main difference at Barca is likely to be that Kounde is expected to distribute more than before, and that should occur naturally given the Blaugrana's even greater hold on possession.

But Kounde's admirers will hope that doesn't take away from his biggest strength.

Kounde is a defender who likes to progress the ball by carrying it. That's not to say he is a poor passer – he's very good – he just happens to be extremely adept when on the ball.

Across the top five European leagues last season, Kounde's total carry progress of 3,720 metres upfield was the 13th highest among centre-backs. But for the average distance of progressive carries, he ranked as high as seventh (minimum 1,000 minutes played).

These weren't just carries that progressed play by a couple of metres, either. His 159 progressive carries over 10 metres was the ninth most among the same players, while only three centre-backs recorded more carries with take-ones than Kounde's 19.

Put simply, this is a centre-back who likes to get his team on the front foot by taking initiative. He's positive, brave and effective. Considering Ronald Araujo's more pragmatic approach on the ball, Kounde should have the space and support to become a significant influence.

One of the best examples of Kounde's forward-thinking mentality actually came against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey last year, as he embarked on a brilliant solo run that culminated in a wonderful finish.

Kounde was the last of Xavi's major recruits this window, but considering defence was probably the area of the squad that needed strengthening the most, he was arguably the most crucial of the new arrivals.

As he prepares to return to the place where he made his name, Kounde has the perfect opportunity to truly announce himself to Barcelona fans.

Jules Kounde outlined his intention to win titles with Barcelona after finally making his long-awaited debut in the 4-0 victory over Real Valladolid on Saturday.

The defensive acquisition from Sevilla has had to be patient to make his bow, missing the opening two LaLiga matches against Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad as he was not registered.

Barcelona were unable to register further additions due to their delicate financial situation, with LaLiga requiring outgoing deals before he could officially join the ranks, but an agreement was reached ahead of the third game of the season.

Kounde immediately slotted into Xavi's defence for the 4-0 win, winning three of four duels, regaining possession on five occasions and misplacing just four of 58 attempted passes.

Now set for a big week, returning to former employers Sevilla next weekend before the club begin their Champions League campaign, Kounde has made it clear he wants to win trophies with the club.

"I have not played a lot, but I feel very good. I still need a while to get back to my best level," he said.

"I have come to Barca to win titles and to continue growing."

Kounde was utilised on the right side of defence for his debut and, while his preference is to play centrally, is happy to fill in wherever necessary.

"My main position is centre-back, but if the coach wants me to play on the right, then I will do my best to help the team," he said. 

Head coach Xavi heaped praise upon the Frenchman, expressing his belief that he can become a crucial asset for the future as well as providing an immediate impact.

"When we talk about Kounde, we're speaking about a player that can mark an era at Barca," he said.

"He can do everything, play out from the back, has personality, leadership, can play in any defensive position. We've made a great signing."

Barcelona head coach Xavi heaped praise upon "natural leader" Robert Lewandowski, highlighting other aspects of his game beyond the goals after the 4-0 win against Real Valladolid.

The recent acquisition from Bayern Munich scored a brace for the second game in a row to take his tally to four in three games and was unfortunate to have not secured a hat-trick, hitting the frame of the goal twice.

Lewandowski's goals were always going to be the most valuable outcome of his lucrative transfer, but Xavi believes he offers more than his devastating impact in the final third.

"Apart from the goals, I would highlight his timing. Everything that the fan does not see so much, is extraordinary," he told DAZN.

"He is a natural leader; what he sees he says. It's wonderful how he has adapted to the group. He is a born worker, an example."

Having started the campaign with a goalless draw against Rayo Vallecano, Barcelona have secured back-to-back wins against Real Sociedad and Real Valladolid, scoring eight goals in the process – more than any other side to have completed three matches.

While Xavi made it clear there are areas for improvement, he hailed the team for a "remarkable" performance.

"Perfect no, but it was a great match. The first 40 minutes were very good. Then we relaxed. In the second part we started well as well," he added.

"Overall, it was a perfect match, but not a complete one. You don't have to relax and you have to keep squeezing. We wanted to give back to the fans the illusion. 

"This is good for the team and for the fans. We should not relax as has happened with the 2-0. I have to watch the game repeated but there are things to improve. There is no perfect match, but it was remarkable."

Barcelona's next test is against Sevilla before commencing their Champions League campaign, having been handed a tough group that includes Bayern Munich and Inter.

Jules Kounde is set to make his Barcelona debut on Sunday after he was belatedly registered to feature in LaLiga.

The France defender joined from Sevilla last month in a deal that could be worth €62.5million following a fine three-year spell at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.

However, Barcelona were initially unable to register him to play in LaLiga as they needed to reduce their wage expenditure in line with the salary cap.

Registration priority was given to signings that arrived before Kounde, with Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen all making their debuts.

But media reports on Friday suggested Barca had finally been able to register the centre-back – head coach Xavi did not confirm that in his pre-match press conference on Saturday, merely saying they were "optimistic".

Kounde's registration is now official, however, with his move acknowledged in the transfer feed on LaLiga's website.

Therefore, Kounde is expected to face Real Valladolid on Sunday as Barca hope to make it back-to-back wins after thrashing Real Sociedad 4-1 last weekend.

The news will no doubt come as a relief to Barca fans after media speculation claimed Kounde would be able to walk away from the club for free if not registered before the transfer deadline.

If Kounde does not play at Camp Nou on Sunday, he is likely to make his debut against former club Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan next weekend.

Barcelona head coach Xavi is "pretty sure" defender Jules Kounde will make his LaLiga debut for his new team against Real Valladolid this weekend.

Kounde joined Barca from Sevilla for a reported fee of €55million this transfer window, after the Catalan club beat Chelsea to the France international's signature.

However, Barcelona's financial situation meant Kounde could not be registered to play in LaLiga, although other new arrivals Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen have each made their debuts.

But Xavi believes the situation is finally sorted and is confident Kounde will feature against Valladolid at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Xavi told reporters at his pre-match news conference: "It's a negotiation with LaLiga. We are pretty sure that Jules can play tomorrow. We are optimistic."

Kounde is sure to be a big help for Barcelona in Europe as they compete to lift their first Champions League trophy since beating Juventus in the final in the 2014-15 campaign.

Xavi's team will first have to get out of a tricky Group C that includes Inter and Viktoria Plzen, as well as Bayern Munich, who infamously thumped Barcelona in a humiliating 8-2 defeat in the 2019-20 quarter-finals.

And Xavi knows the size of the task ahead of his team, saying: "It's a very difficult group, perhaps the toughest. 

"We've made very good signings this season, we've invested a lot. The Champions League and the league, we want to go through and fight for the trophies. But the challenge is massive. It's perhaps the group of death."

Pep Guardiola has not ruled out the possibility of Bernardo Silva joining Barcelona – a club he "likes very much" – but acknowledged a deal would be tricky at this stage of the transfer window.

Silva remains a key man for City, excelling and scoring the equaliser in Sunday's 3-3 draw at Newcastle United, yet he also continues to be linked to Barca.

The Blaugrana have invested heavily in this window, with Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde among their eye-catching signings.

However, Barca coach Xavi is said to still be eager to add to his squad, with Silva seen as a potentially key capture.

City visited Camp Nou on Wednesday for a friendly – another 3-3 draw – and both Xavi and Guardiola were predictably asked to discuss Silva after the match.

"Who does not like Bernardo Silva? Just like De Bruyne or Haaland," Xavi said. "But there is no news.

"He is a player that I love – there are few like him – but it already depends on City."

Those comments offered Guardiola the opportunity to have a definitive say on Silva's future, but he repeated his mantra that he would only wish to keep happy players at City.

And Silva, the City manager added, would certainly be receptive to Barca.

"We count on him and I do not want him to leave," Guardiola said. "He is a superlative player in everything [he does].

"But as I have always said: I do not want a player to be unhappy. If a good offer came, he wanted to leave and there was an agreement, we would see.

"Although, if he left now, it would be a problem, because the market is about to close.

"With that said, Bernardo likes Barcelona very much."

The window will close next Thursday, with City's incoming business seemingly done after adding Erling Haaland, Stefan Ortega, Kalvin Phillips and Sergio Gomez to Guardiola's squad, along with Julian Alvarez, who was signed in January.

Barcelona and Manchester City drew 3-3 in a thrilling friendly at Camp Nou as Premier League-linked Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both bagged for the hosts.

Chelsea-linked Aubameyang should have given his side an early lead, but his close-range header from a Sergi Roberto cross was straight at Stefan Ortega.

The Spanish side started the game impressively but fell behind after 21 minutes. City new boy Julian Alvarez took advantage of a mistake from Barca keeper Inaki Pena to prod home. 

The lead lasted just eight minutes though, as Aubameyang made up for his earlier miss with a back-post volley that slipped underneath Ortega.

City should have restored their advantage early in the second half, with Alvarez missing a great chance to bag his second of the game after a couple of attempts were thwarted before Riyad Mahrez blazed wide.

De Jong, a target this window for the visitors' city rivals Manchester United, put Barca 2-1 up after 66 minutes with a smart finish past Ortega.

Pep Guardiola's men pegged them back moments later though, with youngster Cole Palmer tapping in at the back post after a powerful cross from Joao Cancelo.

Xavi's team were again in front with 11 minutes left as Memphis Depay found acres of space in the box to smash the ball into the back of the net.

They would not see out the remaining minutes for the victory though, as Andreas Christensen fouled Erling Haaland in the box before Mahrez lashed home the resulting penalty to earn his side a share of the spoils.

Barcelona head coach Xavi has admitted he is frustrated not to have Jules Kounde registered, but hopes to be able to welcome him to the fold next week.

The Catalan side secured the services of Kounde from Sevilla for a reported fee of €55million prior to the start of the season, swooping to land the France international ahead of Premier League side Chelsea.

Financial limitations have affected Barcelona, however, with Kounde yet to be registered – though fellow new recruits Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie have all been registered and have made their debuts.

Xavi is understandably frustrated by the situation but has praised the work being conducted by club director Mateu Alemany and hopes Kounde can be eligible to make his debut against Real Valladolid next Sunday.

"It's the situation we have, it bothers me not to have Kounde, those who don't come out depend on many things. It bothers me not to have Jules. Maybe he would have played today for sure," he said in a press conference after the 4-1 win against Real Sociedad.

"It bothers us all. Mateu [Alemany] is doing an extraordinary job. It bothers me because it is important, Mateu must be upset. The work the club is doing is extraordinary.

"It bothers me that he's training well and can't even play. Let's wait for next week."

Barcelona's ability to register Kounde hinges on outgoings at the club to balance the finances, with Samuel Umtiti, Sergino Dest, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Martin Braithwaite and Memphis Depay touted for exits.

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