Barcelona end pre-season optimistic with squad potential

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Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski, left, celebrates after scoring a goal during the Joan Gamper Trophy soccer match between FC Barcelona and Pumas Unam at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, ​​Spain, Sunday, August 7, 2022. c (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

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Barcelona surprised many during the off-season by making several high-profile signings despite struggling financially.

The club’s tactic to bolster its squad – mostly by foregoing future revenue to add new players now – has been met with much doubt and criticism.

But even the most worried Barcelona fans can’t hide their optimism about the team’s potential ahead of the season which starts next weekend.

The new signings showed plenty of promise in the pre-season which ended on Sunday with a 6-0 rout of Mexican club Pumas in the Joan Camper tournament at Camp Nou.

A crowd of over 83,000 saw the team’s top signing Robert Lewandowski score his first goal for the Catalan club and connect well with young playmaker Pedri González. They also saw new defender Jules Koundé make his debut, and new striker Raphinha and returning striker Ousmane Dembélé play well again.

Barcelona also beat Inter Miami, New York Red Bulls and Spanish rivals Real Madrid in their pre-season, as well as drawing 2-2 with Juventus.

Ahead of Sunday’s game, fans had already received good news, with chairman Joan Laporta saying the club would meet Spanish league fair play requirements to register all new signings in time for the season.

“We will be able to register all the players,” he said, dismissing concerns that some players should be left out of the squad until the club can generate more revenue.

Barcelona recently sold 25% of its Spanish league television rights for the next 25 years for almost 670 million euros ($682.1 million) and sold a 25% stake in its production center for 100 million euros ($101.8 million). On Sunday, he played his first game at the Camp Nou since being renamed following a sponsorship and naming rights deal with Spotify.

“There is no time to wait in football, there is no transition season,” Laporta told Spanish media. “We did what we had to do to make Barcelona a benchmark again.”

After a trophyless season in which it went without Lionel Messi for the first time in almost two decades, the club went on the market and quickly became the biggest spenders of the offseason in Europe.

Lewandowski arrived from Bayern Munich in a deal worth nearly 50 million euros ($50.9 million), while Raphinha came from Leeds United for almost 60 million euros ($61.1 million) and Koundé from Seville for nearly 50 million euros ($50.9 million).

Barcelona also added young midfielder Franck Kessié and centre-back Andreas Christensen, and renewed the contract of Dembélé, who had already shown during pre-season that he will be an important piece in the coach’s attack. Xavi Hernandez.

The team’s attack also features talented youngster Ansu Fati, Dutch international Memphis Depay, Denmark international Martin Braithwaite and Spain international Ferran Torres. In midfield, he still has Gavi Páez and Pedri, who scored his two goals against the Pumas thanks to assists from Lewandowski.

“This Barça is scary”, headlined the sports daily Marca on Monday.

“Spectacular,” read the Sport newspaper’s front-page headline, above a photo of Lewandowski.

The Camp Nou should be packed again for the team’s league debut on Saturday against Rayo Vallecano, as another strong performance would further help Laporta make the case that the club’s high spending will ultimately be justified.

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