La Liga

Zubizarreta hails Barcelona squad

Have Barcelona improved since last season, or is there work to do?
Have Barcelona improved since last season, or is there work to do?
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Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta insists he is "delighted" with the Primera Division champions' squad.

All eyes were on Barca during the summer to see if last term's shock 7-0 Champions League semifinal drubbing at the hands of Bayern Munich might spark a spending spree at the Catalan giants.

A host of big-name players were linked with a move to the Nou Camp, but the only new face to arrive before Monday night's transfer deadline was that of Brazil striker Neymar. At the same time, Barca saw the likes of David Villa, Thiago Alcantara and Eric Abidal leave for pastures new, effectively leaving new coach Gerard Martino with fewer options than his predecessor Tito Vilanova.

However, the lack of transfer activity does not seem to have unduly affected Barca at the start of the new season, with the team winning their opening three league matches and also edging out Atletico Madrid to win the Spanish Supercopa on away goals.

Zubizarreta, despite not being able to land the center back he had been looking for this summer, says he is happy with the group available to Martino.

"I'm delighted with the squad that we have. Whoever plays, I will feel extraordinarily satisfied," he said on his club's website. "We had a complex summer, long and difficult, with complicated situations. But amongst all of that, we have the team that we want.

"The team is competing extraordinarily well. You don't just find cups in the museum. You have to go out and win them. This team has always wanted to get better and we're making an effort to do that."

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Barca had been linked with the likes of Thiago Silva, Daniel Agger, David Luiz, Mats Hummels and a number of other top defenders as they sought to add to an area of their squad which does not have the same strength in depth as other positions.

However, no deals were struck and, with captain Carles Puyol still injured, Barca have continued to employ Javier Mascherano at the back alongside Gerard Pique at the start of the new season.

Zubizarreta said: "Throughout Barca's history, center backs have always been difficult to sign. The recovery of Puyol has been very good and we've thought about the center back position. We had a main objective, and we couldn't bring him in. We have (Marc) Bartra and other options.

"We are working on the idea of him (Puyol) returning after the international break. We're reasonably optimistic. Puyol has gone through a difficult patch and that says a lot for him."

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