Quique Setien said yesterday that Barcelona are considering signing another striker before the end of the January transfer window to replace the injured Luis Suarez. Suarez is unlikely to play again this season after undergoing surgery on his knee earlier this month, which has left Barca short in the centre of their front three.
Lionel Messi played more centrally in Setien’s first game against Granada on Sunday but the Argentinian prefers to play off the right. Antoine Griezmann thrived down the middle for Atletico Madrid but offers less of a direct, physical presence than Suarez, who has scored 14 goals in 23 appearances this term.
“We are considering it,” said Setien, when asked if Barca would buy another forward in January. “We are talking about that but we still have to think about it a bit more, it’s not an issue that worries me too much. I’m worried about the match tomorrow and the match against Valencia. It’s an issue that the sports department will consider in more depth.”
Barcelona face Segunda B side Ibiza today in the Copa del Rey when Setien could rest key players, including Messi. “I have more or less planned an idea for him but I have to see what happens in training and see how we can make a competitive and balanced XI,” Setien said. Ousmane Dembele has resumed training this week after recovering from a hamstring injury and the Frenchman’s return in the coming weeks would be a major boost to the team’s attacking options. “Dembele is an important player without a doubt,” Setien said. “He’s an extraordinary player, who hasn’t had much consistency but for sure he will be an important player for the club and we are sure he will help us a lot.”
Zidane says Bale fit
for Copa del Rey test
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has said Gareth Bale is fit and ready to play against Unionistas de Salamanca today in the Copa del Rey. Bale was left out of the squad for Madrid’s win over Sevilla on Saturday and Zidane said after the match he had picked up a knock.
The Welshman trained with his teammates last week, after also missing the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia through illness. It means Bale has not played for Real Madrid since January 4, when he started their 3-0 win away Getafe. He has not scored for his club since September 1.
Asked why Bale and James Rodriguez, who has hardly featured in the last two months, have disappeared”, Zidane said: “They haven’t disappeared. They were both injured the other day. They are both ready to play.”
Real Madrid play in the last 32 of the Copa del Rey against Unionistas de Salamanca, the fan-owned club launched in 2013 after UD Salamanca went out of business. Unionistas, who now play in Spain’s third tier, have faced problems preparing for the tie given their stadium at Las Pistas del Helmantico can hold 3,000 spectators, with only one stand and insufficient lighting. The pitch is surrounded by an athletics track.
“All the players have started playing on pitches like this, me as well,” said Zidane, when it was suggested the pitch could cause Real Madrid problems. “We are prepared both mentally and in a sporting sense as well because we know where we are going to play and we know what to expect. Perhaps it was 10 or 15 years ago but we have all played on pitches like this, in difficult situations. It will not be a problem for us.”
Zidane is likely to rest key players, with a trip to Real Valladolid to come in La Liga on Sunday and the Madrid derby against Atletico scheduled for the following weekend.
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