Wed, 05 Oct 2022

Lots of doubts ahead of Barca's La Liga opener

13 Aug 2022, 02:05 GMT+10

MADRID, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- FC Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez still doesn't know which players will be available when his side kicks off their 2022-23 La Liga campaign at home to Rayo Vallecano on Saturday night.

On Friday, the club confirmed that it had activated its fourth so-called 'palanca' (economic lever), which involved the sale of 24.5 percent of the club's audiovisual production company Barca Studio to a company called Orpheus Media.

The fourth sale of the club's assets this summer - after a further 25 percent of Barca Studios and 25 percent of the club's TV rights for the next 25 years - means the club meet La Liga's financial fair play requirements to inscribe at least some of their five summer signings, as well as returnees Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto, into their squad.

However, at 16:00 on Friday, just 29 hours before kick-off, there was still no confirmation whether all or just some of the new arrivals (Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Andres Christensen, Jules Kounde and Franck Kessie) plus Dembele and Sergi Roberto will be available.

If the fourth 'palanca' doesn't allow Barca to include all seven in their squad for La Liga, Xavi Hernandez will have to decide who is in and who is out - at least for the opening game.

The situation is further complicated by revelations from ESPN that both Kessie and Christensen have clauses in their contracts that allow them to walk away from the club if they are not in the squad for the first match of the season.

Xavi also has a problem with midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who has so far dug his heels in to turn down a move to Manchester United or to accept a pay cut, and the Dutch player could find himself on the sidelines.

Without knowing who will be in the squad, it is hard to predict Barca's starting 11. Lewandowski must surely start if allowed, Ronald Araujo could cover at right-back if needed, while Sergio Busquets, Gavi and Pedri make up an impressive midfield, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ferran Torres in attack.

Rayo won 1-0 in the Camp Nou last season, and Andoni Iraola's side will be brave with Alvaro Garcia and Izi Palazon looking to provide width in attack and pace on the break.

Barca has impressed in pre-season. If they win with their new signings, it will increase the good feeling at the Camp Nou.

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