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Soler: Barcelona passed on Pogba last year

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Barcelona sporting director Albert Soler has claimed the club had an agreement in place to sign Paul Pogba after the 2014-15 season.

Pogba became the world’s most expensive footballer when he rejoined Manchester United from Juventus for a fee of £89million.

Speaking at a news conference to mark the end of the transfer window, Soler said Barcelona were in position to sign the France international a year ago but did not feel compelled to complete the deal, before balking at the price this time around.

“Last year we reached an agreement with Juventus: if they wanted to sell Pogba we would have a priority,” he said.

“That was the commitment that we had. Juve did not want to sell the player and we didn’t have the need to sign him.

“Barcelona has always had a great relationship with Juventus. If we would have wanted to do the deal, nobody could advance us.

“We signed six players with €120million. If one club can pay €120m for one player [it] will be very difficult to sign great players.”

Among the players acquired during a productive transfer window for the LaLiga champions was Paco Alcacer, ending a lengthy search for forward cover.

The presence of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez appeared prohibitive for a number of reported Barca targets but technical secretary Robert Fernandez is delighted to have Alcacer on board and believes the 23-year-old Spain international is relishing the challenge.

“I think that we have done a very good job with this transaction,” he said. “We’ve got a very good player who we think is going to help us a lot

“He has the best in front of him, that’s for certain. He has to learn from the best – Luis Suarez – and I’ve told him that.

“I’ve told all the players who have arrived what is required and how it will be difficult to play. It’s a beautiful challenge.

“They are in good shape, they are very young, they are excited and I’m convinced they are going to help us.”

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Barcelona

Lyon 0-0 Barcelona: Lionel Messi blanks in Champions League stalemate

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Barcelona were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at Lyon in their Champions League last-16 first leg as both sides remained undefeated in this season’s competition.

The La Liga leaders dominated the match at the Groupama stadium but lacked accuracy up front and were grateful to their goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen who made two great saves.

Lyon were lively in the first half but ran out of steam after the break and were holding on in the closing stages as Lionel Messi tried in vain to open up the home defence.

The second leg will be at the Nou Camp on March 13.

LYON 0-0 BARCELONA

Lyon XI: Lopes, Dubois, Marcelo, Denayer, Mendy, Traore, Ndombele, Aouar, Terrier, Depay, Dembele.

Subs: Gorgelin, Marcal, Tete, Cheikh, Solet, Cornet, Tousart.

Barcelona XI: ter Stegen, Nelson Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Sergio Busquets, Rakitic, Messi, Suarez, Dembele.

Subs: Pena, Coutinho, Malcom, Murillo, Vidal, Umtiti, Alena.

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Barcelona squad to face Valladolid revealed

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Barcelona have released their line-up that will tackle Valladolid in the La Liga fixture on Saturday night at Camp Nou.

According to Barca Blaugranes, Barcacelona’s coach, Ernesto Valverde released a list of 18 players.

The players include: two goal keepers, five defenders, six midfielders and five forwards.

Goalkeepers: Marc-André ter Stegen, Iñaki Peña

Defenders: Nélson Semedo, Gerard Piqué, Clément Lenglet, Jordi Alba, Thomas Vermaelen

Midfielders: Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Philippe Coutinho, Sergi Roberto, Carles Aleñá, Arturo Vidal

Forwards: Luis Suárez, Lionel Messi, Ousmane Dembélé, Malcom, Kevin-Prince Boateng

The kick-off time for the match is 8:45pm.

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Barcelona prepare for Messi exit

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Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, has admitted that the club’s recent transfer activity, has been with the retirement of Lionel Messi in mind.

The Spanish champions agreed a £65million deal to sign 21-year-old Ajax midfielder Frenkie De Jong last month, as well as teenage defender Jean-Clair Todibo.

Brazilian duo Arthur (22) and Malcom (21) were also signed in the summer.

Bartomeu says their additions is to prepare the squad for the day that Messi decides to leave.

Speaking to journalist Guillem Balague on BBC Radio Five Live’s Football Daily Podcast, he said: “I know one day Lionel will say he’s retiring.

“We have to prepare the club for the future.

“We are bringing great young players to the team because we need to continue this era of success. That’s our responsibility.

“My mandate will be finished in two seasons. So I need to leave the club in a great position and tell the new president ‘that’s our legacy’.”

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