‘No friendlies’ for Barcelona, says Xavi, as coach sidesteps Jules Kounde questions


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 in the United States with a 1-0 win in the overseas iteration of El Clasico against Real Madrid thanks to a superb strike from new recruit Raphinha in Las Vegas.

With Roberto Lewandowski making his club debut, the future still looks rosy for Barca as they look to reverse two years of declining profits with a high-risk transfer policy to regain their La Liga crown.

Part of that process is the mental belief that every game is up for grabs, according to their coach, who says even pre-season tests can’t be interpreted as kicking games.

“There are no friendlies in Barcelona,” Xavi declared after his side’s victory over their rivals. “[We want] to win titles again. Everyone starts from scratch – we don’t perform under your name.”

Asked about Kounde – who looks set to move to Chelsea amid talk of Barca hijacking the transfer – the Spaniard avoided direct answers, only adding: “We are trying to strengthen all positions.”

Xavi was happier writing about Raphinh and Lewandowski, with the two attacking talents the most significant fruits of Barca’s transfer dealings when they arrived from Leeds and Bayern Munich.

“[Raphinha] makes the difference,” he added. “He is dynamic on the wings. Robert is a world-class star who has adapted very quickly. He will give the rest of the team competition – they will 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 the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

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