Barcelona played a friendly against Manchester City on Wednesday night. | NACHO DOCE


Barcelona's financial struggles and their inability to register newly-signed French defender Jules Kounde as a player have overshadowed the buildup to Sunday's game against Real Valladolid and eclipsed last week's 4-1 win at Real Sociedad.

Not even Robert Lewandowski's first two goals for the club and a great display from Ansu Fati were enough to divert attention away from Barca's battle against the clock to comply with LaLiga's Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules before the end of the summer transfer window.

If Barca are unable to register Kounde by next Wednesday, the 23-year-old France defender would become a free agent due to a release-clause included in his contract, signed last month when Barca paid 50 million euros to Sevilla to make him one of their marquee signings of the new season.

Spanish media have reported that Barca are still some 20 million euros over the cap, even after agreeing to loan defender Samuel Umtiti to Lecce on Thursday.

The club are taking several other steps to increase their revenue in order to offset losses and reduce debt to meet the FFP rules and are hopeful that the potential sales of midfielder Frenkie de Jong and strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Memphis Depay could make this possible.

After picking up four points from their opening two games, Barca are two points behind champions and rivals Real Madrid, who will also play in Barcelona on Sunday, but some 8km south of the Camp Nou, at Cornellà-El Prat against Espanyol.

It will be their second match without Brazilian Casemiro, who said farewell to the club last weekend after agreeing to sign for Manchester United.

Their first outing without their stalwart midfielder was positive as Madrid breezed past Celta Vigo with a 4-1 win in which youngsters Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga alternated in the Brazilian's defensive midfield role.

They also added an extra gear going forward to Carlo Ancelotti's team that they seemed to lack with the Brazilian, turning any uncertainty among fans into a sense of optimism about the future.
Atletico Madrid will look to rebound from a tough 2-0 home defeat against Villarreal as they travel to Valencia on Monday to face Gennaro Gattuso's side.

Like Barca, Valencia are trying to sell a player to meet LaLiga's FFP rules so they can officially announce the signing of former Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani.

Villarreal, Real Madrid, Betis and Osasuna share top spot in the table as the only teams to have won both of their opening games.