<
>

Andres Iniesta: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho won't take my Barcelona spot

Andres Iniesta doesn't see Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho as someone who will come in and take his place but as a player who will improve Barcelona's current side.

Barca failed with three bids for the Brazilian in the summer but all indicators suggest they will test Liverpool's resolve again in January with CEO Oscar Grau saying the Catalan club 'are prepared' to sign him.

Where Coutinho would fit into Ernesto Valverde's side is another talking point, with some saying he would play on the left of the front three and others suggesting he could take Iniesta's place in midfield.

However, Iniesta -- who signed a lifetime contract with the club earlier this year -- doesn't see Coutinho as competition and would welcome his arrival at Camp Nou.

"I think Coutinho's a great team player with a huge amount of talent," the 33-year-old told Mundo Deportivo.

"He can use both feet, he scores goals, he links play well and gets between the lines in attack.

"He's a player with qualities like ours and it would be a great signing if it's finally done. I don't see him as competition for me, but as a step forward for the club."

Coutinho could prove Iniesta's long-term heir at Barca but the club's captain will lead his side in Saturday's Clasico against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

League leaders Barcelona are six points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid and 11 ahead of fourth-placed Real, who have played a game less.

Barca, therefore, travel to Madrid in good spirits and looking to extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 25 games.

"We are in a confident mood at the moment," midfielder Paulinho, who scored a brace against Deportivo La Coruna last weekend, told the club's official website.

"We know it will be tough in all competitions but we are on a winning run and we are very solid as a team.

"Madrid are a quality team and we will have to be on the ball for 90 minutes, but we just have to worry about ourselves and put in a good performance.

"A Clasico can be decided at any moment and we have to be almost perfect."