Lewandowski and Barcelona's new recruits train for season curtain-raiser - in pictures

Catalans take on Pumas UNAM in Joan Gamper Trophy clash at Camp Nou on Sunday

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Barcelona will begin a new chapter in their football history on Sunday with a sense of renewed hope.

The Catalan giants fell down the pecking order in European football after crippling debts and dwindling revenue streams during the pandemic put the club in a precarious position.

Barca then took the bold step of selling off 25 per cent of their Spanish league TV rights - for the next 25 years for $679 million - and another 25 per cent stake of the Barca Studios production hub for $102m - to pay off debts and also finance a major acquisition drive.

The proceeds from those sales allowed Barca to bring in striker Robert Lewandowski, defender Jules Kounde and winger Raphinha.

The three signings cost a combined €160m ($163m), which means manager Xavi Hernandez will be under pressure to deliver almost immediately.

Barca enjoyed a successful pre-season tour of the US, remaining unbeaten and registering a win over Real Madrid.

They gear up for the new season with a clash against Mexico's Pumas UNAM for the Joan Gamper Trophy - the traditional season curtain-raiser - at Camp Nou on Sunday, before opening their La Liga campaign at home against Rayo Vallecano on August 13.

Lewandowski, Kounde and Raphinha took part in training on Saturday, with all expected to make their home debuts.

Lewandowski, who scored 344 goals for Bayern Munich in 375 matches before his high-profile move, was presented to thousands of fans at Camp Nou in his number nine jersey on Friday.

The Polish star, who turns 34 this month, said age did not matter to him as he looks ahead to a fresh challenge.

"It is only a number and physically I don't feel like I'm 33, nearly 34, because I know I can still play a few years at top level or even longer," Lewandowski said.

"I feel better even than when I was a 29-year-old. It's not the question we have to think about."

Updated: August 06, 2022, 12:13 PM
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