Xavi gets behind misfiring striker after Barcelona draw against Napoli in Europa League

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By Martin Graham | 19th Feb 2022

Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez threw his weight behind misfiring striker Ferran Torres who spurned a couple of chances as Barcelona drew 1-1 to the visiting Napoli in their first-ever Europa League game.

The former Manchester City and Valencia striker played in his first European game for the Catalan giants and had the most chances of the game for both teams.

He wasted all but one, which was a penalty won by fellow January signing Adama Traore. He could not contain his emotions after the match with the final whistle bringing the realisation down on him that he had cost Barcelona a win.

However, he took to Instagram in defiance to send the message to fans and detractors alike after the game.

Torres wrote on his Instagram, “This does not end here. Effort always ends up giving results.”

Barcelona boss Xavi also stood by Torres. When asked about the wasted chances by Torres in his post-match interview, he answered, “We were just making a comparison in the dressing room.

“It [also] happened to Luis Suarez, who seemed to be struggling to score. The Barcelona shirt weighs a few kilos more. But I am delighted to have [Torres] in the team and he will give [us] a lot of joy.

“If he is in the area, it is because he will score. He could score all his life and he will. In training he is one of those who scores the most. He has our absolute confidence. He has to just put it behind him.

“It will not affect him. I will take care of this, the staff [will do so too]. He is very strong, self-demanding.”

Barcelona to take it easy with injured striker

Torres is one of Xavi’s dream front trio as manager of Barcelona. The other is Norwegian striker Erling Haaland who is currently the most wanted striker in the world.

Ansu Fati completes the trio but he has not had the option to build a rapport with Torres who joined the club this January. This is due to an injury which he suffered in the latter stages of last year.

Fati is currently recovering in Madrid and has hopes of returning to the club before the El Clasico. Reports say that the 19-year old is in good spirits and the calculations are that he could be back in training in a month’s time which will coincide with the Clasico.

However, more reports say that Barcelona plan not to rush Fati back into action when he returns from Madrid to training.

The youngster has a disastrous spell with injuries, missing nine months with a knee injury in 2020/21 and has suffered two setbacks since returning.

He opted for conservative treatment which will involve strengthening the muscles around and in his hamstring rather than having them surgically repaired.

Barcelona will make sure that Fati has at least three weeks of training with the group to make sure he is absolutely ready.

Diario AS reports that the signings of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Torres in January helped Barcelona make this decision.

Barcelona to sell five players to fund major transfer

As Xavi continues his squad rebuild Spanish transfer website Fichajes has reported that Barcelona will sell five players on the manager’s demand in the summer.

The players include fourth captain Sergi Roberto, Sergiño Dest, Martin Braithwaite, Clement Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti.

The funds from the transfers of these players will go to the signing of Haaland from Borussia Dortmund in order to complete Xavi’s dream front trio.

The Catalans’ next challenge will be in LaLiga as they face Valencia. They will head over to the Estadio Diego Armando maradona in Napoli next week needing a win to progress to the last 16 of the Europa League.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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