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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Desperate Barcelona 'close' to double-swoop on Coutinho and Dembele

Pain of losing Super Cup final to Real Madrid may be lifted temporarily if Catalan club acquire replacements for Neymar.

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho has handed in a transfer request. Dave Howarth / Press Association
Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho has handed in a transfer request. Dave Howarth / Press Association

Barcelona could be handed a lift after losing 5-1 on aggregate to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup as a senior official claimed the club are "close" to signing Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.

Pep Segura, Barca's general manager, said negotiations with Liverpool for Brazilian playmaker Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund over a deal for promising French winger Dembele could be finalised within days.

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"We have to help the team with reinforcements and they will be here in the coming days," Segura told Catalan TV station Esport3 after Barca lost the second leg of the Super Cup 2-0 at Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu.

"We are discussing the conditions of Coutinho and Dembele...they are close.

"We hope they will be Barca players next season."

Highlights from Super Cup defeat

Barca's season has been thrown into turmoil by Neymar's world record €222 million (then around Dh960m) move to Paris Saint-Germain this month.

New Barca manager Ernesto Valverde conceded Neymar's absence has affected the balance of the side.

Meanwhile, the Catalans have struggled to close deals for Coutinho and Dembele with Liverpool and Dortmund holding out for fees in excess of €100m in the knowledge of Barca's desperation to land a replacement before the transfer window shuts on August 31.

Borussia Dortmund's Ousmane Dembele has been eager to join Barcelona. Bernd Thissen / AP Photo
Borussia Dortmund's Ousmane Dembele has been eager to join Barcelona. Bernd Thissen / AP Photo

Also read:

Busquets hopes Barca sign 'as many players of highest quality' to replace Neymar

Andy Mitten: Neymar's move a blow to Barcelona's status atop football's food chain

Barca defender Gerard Pique denied reports there is a growing feud between club's players and under-pressure board.

However, Pique conceded Barca have plenty of work to do if they are to close they gap on Madrid, who have added to their crowns as European and Spanish champions by winning both the Uefa and Spanish Super Cups in style over the past week.

"We are not in the best moment. Not as a team or as a club," Pique said. "We have to stick together and move forward.

"The season is long and it has just begun. Madrid were superior so we have to live with defeat, congratulate them and improve."

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