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Barcelona set their sights on Arsenal man as back-up for faltering Coutinho move

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Despite losing Neymar and failing to adequately replace him, Barcelona have started this season like a house on fire.

The Catalan club have won ten of their opening 11 La Liga fixtures, leaving them four points clear of Valencia at the top of the table, and eight ahead of rivals Real Madrid, who've made a shaky start to their title defence.

Qualification to the knockout stages of the Champions League has also been all-but secured too, top of their group with ten points from their four matches, and can secure the winners' spot with a draw at Juventus next week.

Excluding the Supercopa de España, Barca have scored a massive 40 goals in 16 games, conceding just five in that time, as they've made the perfect start to life under Ernesto Valverde.

The main disappointment has been Ousmane Dembele, Neymar's direct replacement, who has played just three times since his £135 move from Borussia Dortmund, and has been out since September with a hamstring injury.

It was well-documented in the summer that the Copa del Rey holders were targeting Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho to boost their ranks, seeing three bids rejected, the largest of which was around £114m.

However, the Reds held firm and kept hold of their star man, who has missed nine of their 18 matches so far this season through injury, scoring four times in the games he has featured in.

Despite Coutinho's well-reported desire to move, Liverpool don't share the same urge to sell, as the Brazilian only signed a new five-year deal last year.

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As a result Barcelona have lined up a back-up option should the Merseysiders once again remain resilient, and according to Mundo Deportivo, per the Mirror, that man is Arsenal's Mesut Ozil.

Ozil has a goal and two assists in his nine Premier League outings this term, and is out of contract next summer.

This means he is quite clearly a much cheaper option than Coutinho, with Arsenal suspected to be considering selling him in January to recoup some of the £42.5m they paid for him on deadline day in 2013.

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Mundo claim that Barca believe the 29-year-old has the ability to compliment Andres Iniesta in midfield, and his passing range would definitely suit their style.

The move would undoubtedly cause a stir, with Ozil spending four years at arch-rivals Real Madrid.

Barca will definitely sign one player in January according to Mundo, and could add another if they successfully offload Arda Turan, Aleix Vidal or Denis Suarez.

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La Liga
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Alexis Sanchez

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