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SOCCER

Barcelona: Xavi praises Auba, Torres and Traoré impact at Camp Nou

Xavi has praised the impact of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ferran Torres, and Adama Traore, ahead of Barcelona's clash with Athletic Bilbao.

Update:
Barcelona: Xavi praises Auba, Torres and Traoré impact at Camp Nou
AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona boss Xavi has been impressed by his side's January signings.

Xavi has overseen an unbeaten run of nine league matches, as his rejuvenated team chase Champions League qualification, while the Catalan giants also claimed a 5-3 aggregate win over Serie A title contenders Napoli in the Europa League. 

Barça's performances have been buoyed by the arrivals of Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with the latter of the trio becoming just the fourth player to score in the Spanish, English, German, and French top flights this century when he netted a hat-trick in a 4-1 thrashing of Valencia last week.

Each of the trio then registered goal contributions in Barca's thrilling 4-2 win in Naples on Thursday, and Xavi was keen to highlight the impact that his new forwards have had on his side.

Xavi: "Adama has surprised me in his decision-making"

"Without them, it would be more difficult, of course," Xavi said ahead of the clash with Athletic Bilbao. "Aubameyang doesn't surprise me, he has quality and works for the team

"Adama has surprised me in his decision-making, he has matured, and Ferran seems to me to be a footballer of another level, [he is] spectacular. 

"How he understands the spaces, [how] he doesn't lose balls, he is of a world class level. He was a spectacular signing and [is] a wonderful footballer".

Aubameyang's treble at Valencia means that Barcelona have now had more different goalscorers than any other side in the big five European leagues this season, with their 19 being two more than each of Atalanta, Paris Saint-Germain and Hoffenheim.

However, Barça have been less impressive at the other end, failing to keep a clean sheet in their last five matches in all competitions, in which they have conceded a total of eight goals.

"It's an aspect to improve, to try to keep a clean sheet," Xavi added. "We believe that we will always score, [but] we have to keep a clean sheet, minimising our mistakes, our lack of concentration. That is one of the goals in the short and medium term.

"We have to improve, in strategy, mistakes, lack of concentration. We do [some] things well and [some] things badly, we still have room for improvement to be more reliable and solid. And if we win, even better."

The Blaugrana will be looking to defend a proud record against Athletic in their upcoming clash – Barcelona have gone 19 consecutive home games without a defeat against them in LaLiga, winning 16 and drawing three matches since a 1-2 loss in November 2001.

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