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Guillem Balague explains how Coutinho will help fulfil Barcelona's promise to Messi

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At the start of the season, many people believed Barcelona were destined for a season of crisis.

The Blaugrana had lost one of their star men in Neymar and were humbled by Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup.

Ousmane Dembele arrived, but the Frenchman picked up a serious injury only a few games into his Barca career, leaving many to believe that not even a team led by Lionel Messi could live up to expectation.

They were wrong. Barca are still unbeaten in all competitions and are nine points clear at the top of La Liga.

Messi has, of course, been the main man, but the likes of Paulinho and Jordi Alba have also played some of the best football of their careers.

Now, in the January transfer window, Barca appear hell bent on further strengthening their squad with the addition of Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho.

The Blaugrana look as if they will submit a massive bid for the Brazilian playmaker, with the 25-year-old looking more likely than ever to ditch Anfield.

And, according to Guillem Balague, the Barca board are making huge preparations to accommodate Coutinho and another marquee signing; Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann.

Speaking on Sky Sports, the Spanish football expert believes Barca will offload eight players in order to improve their squad, something which they are required to do to meet their promise to Lionel Messi.

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“What is quite clear is that Barcelona have decided to reinforce the squad,” Balague said. “To reinforce the first XI, they want Griezmann and they want Coutinho.

“They want Coutinho now if possible, otherwise they will try again in the summer.

“And Griezmann they will try in the summer when his buyout clause will be €100m (£89m).

“To do that, they need to get rid of about eight players, and they will start doing the job now.

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“It is a matter of timing, they will want to make this Barcelona squad as strong as possible because that is the promise they made Messi when they renewed his contract - this will be a stronger Barcelona.

“And you look at the stats and you say: ‘Well Barcelona are doing well.’

“Yes, but everybody realises there are weaknesses, the team is getting old and they need new blood.

“And by getting Coutinho, by getting Griezmann, that will be the kind of Barcelona they want to see in the future.”

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Topics:
Lionel Messi
Neymar
Football
Barcelona
Philippe Coutinho
La Liga
Liverpool

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