Ernesto Valverde hints at Barcelona signings in January

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Ernesto Valverde

Barcelona must overturn a 2-1 first leg deficit when they host Levante on Thursday at Nou Camp, if they want to reach the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey.

Ernesto Valverde meanwhile, has revealed that the club are working on potential signings in January.

“The message from the club and the directors board is to always try to reinforce what we have,” he said.

“To reinforce the players we have because they are the ones responsible to move us forward.


“We are all, the directors board, the club and the players that at certain moments we must try to improve what we have if we have the possibility to do so. But if we can’t then we won’t.”








The four-time defending champions are expected to have some key players back in their starting line-up, after they were rested during the first leg.


Lionel Messi, who scored his 400th league goal on Sunday is one who could return.


Early goals from Erick Cabaco and Borja Mayoral put Levante ahead in the first leg, with the Catalan side scoring their solitary goal – a penalty – through Philippe Coutinho five minutes from time.


Barcelona thrashed Levante 5-0 when they two sides faced in other in the Spanish La Liga in December.



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Bayern Munich "in talks" with Chelsea about Callum Hudson-Odoi

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Bayern Munich say they are “in talks” with Chelsea about Callum Hudson-Odoi.

The German giants were last week rebuked by Chelsea and Blues boss Maurizio Sarri for making their interest in the 18-year-old winger public.

However, Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has commented again on Hudson-Odoi, reiterating the Bundesliga club’s interest in recruiting the England Under-19 international.

“We are in talks with Chelsea,” Salihamidzic told Sport Bild.

“We want to sign the player. I am fully convinced of his abilities.”

The nature of those “talks” is not known and it could simply be to formalise bids which Chelsea have so far rebuffed. The latest offer was said to be worth £35million.

The worry for Chelsea is that Hudson-Odoi has had his head turned by the public declarations from Bayern.

Chelsea will report the Germans to FIFA if there is any evidence of an illegal approach; talks must go through the Blues, not the player or his representatives. However, Chelsea are yet to take the matter to world football’s governing body.

The Blues want Hudson-Odoi to extend his contract, which expires in June 2020.

Hudson-Odoi has made nine appearances for the Blues this season, scoring one goal.

Reports earlier this week suggested he was keen to leave, citing the example of Jadon Sancho’s progress since swapping Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund.
Bayern resume their Bundesliga campaign against Hoffenheim on Friday following the winter break.

Chelsea play at Arsenal on Saturday in the Premier League.

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Al Ain and Al Hilal push to land Barcelona slayer Emmanuel Boateng from Levante

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Levante striker Emmanuel Boateng (c)

Al Ain and Al Hilal head a host of Middle East outfits determined to snap up Levante’s Ghana striker Emmanuel Boateng.

Boateng, 22, rose to global fame last May with a stunning hat-trick when champions Barcelona’s unbeaten run was ended with a shock 5-4 defeat. This stellar display has helped spark widespread interest in gaining his services.

Arabian Gulf League title winners Al Ain and Saudi Professional League holders Hilal have both confirmed they are prepared to pay a fee in excess of €10 million this winter to land the player. Boateng, himself, is eager to explore a move to the region.

The Boss gained an injection of cash this month after the reported $5m sale of outstanding Egypt midfielder Hussein El Shahat to Al Ahly and are open to cashing in on Sweden No9 Marcus Berg. Hilal are in the market for an upgrade on Venezuela centre forward Gelmin Rivas, having already brought in prolific Spanish striker Jonathan Soriano upon his exit from Beijing Guoan.

Boateng has scored once in 15 La Liga appearances this term for mid-table Levante.

In total since August 2017’s €2m switch from Portugal’s Moreirense, he’s struck eight times in 46 matches. His two caps for Ghana have included a penalty, on debut, in a 2-0 triumph against Japan.

The Accra-born attacker has also showcased versatility by being played as a wide forward, a position Al Ain are actively looking to fill within their four-player foreign quota.

Reports in Mexican media stated earlier this month that an approach had also been made by the beaten 2018 Club World Cup finalists to Eintracht Frankfurt about Marco Fabian.

Boateng was stationed on the right wing when he got an exceptional assist for Borja Mayoral’s eventual clincher in January 10’s 2-1 victory against Barca, during the Copa del Rey’s round of 16, first leg.

If Al Ain push through a deal for Boateng, they will need to pay close to the combined €14.5m fees required to bring in celebrated countryman Asamoah Gyan during 2011/12.

This would be the largest single cash transaction in the AGL since – the now-defunct- Al Ahli paid Fenerbahce €17m to draft in Senegal forward Moussa Sow during September 2015.

The Boss are yet to announce a replacement for El Shahat within their non-Emirati contingent. A promotion had been expected for Mali anchor man Tongo Doumbia, who excelled as specialist signing for the CWC after a two-year deal was inked.

Brazilian forward Caio is reported to have agreed to join Benfica on a free transfer this summer.

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