Liga - Champions Barca shift attention to transfer market

Barcelona were turning their attentions to strengthening the squad for next season after second-placed Real Madrid drew 1-1 at Espanyol on Saturday, to gift them a fourth La Liga title in five years.

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Liga - Champions Barca shift attention to transfer market
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Barcelona's Gerard Pique is congratulated by team-mates after scoring a goal against Malaga (Reuters)

Barca, who play at third-placed Atletico Madrid later on Sunday, have an unassailable lead in the table as Jose Mourinho's team trail them by seven points with only two games left to play.

"There'll only be a few changes," Barcelona vice-president Josep Bartomeu told Barca TV. "It's a very competitive team and it's very difficult to substitute the pieces."

"(Spain goalkeeper) Victor Valdes has told us he doesn't want to continue, so we will try to find a replacement this summer. Also a central defender and a forward."

Coach Tito Vilanova's team made a record-breaking start notching 55 of a possible 57 points in the first half of the season, but have faltered in the knockout competitions over the last couple of months as injuries and fatigue took their toll.

Defeats to Real in the King's Cup semi-finals and a thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich in the last four of the Champions League had many predicting the end of Barcelona's recent glittering run of successes.

A string of injury problems for 35-year-old captain Carles Puyol, and Eric Abidal's long recovery from a liver transplant left Barca short of options in defence, which were compounded when Javier Mascherano and Adriano Correia also picked up injuries.

The inconsistency of forwards David Villa and Alexis Sanchez have meant Barca have been more reliant than usual on World Player of the Year Lionel Messi to score goals, especially in the big games.

"People talk of a cyclical change but we have returned to win the main title, the one that rewards consistency," Barca sports director Andoni Zubizarreta said.

"If we look at our squad, 80 per cent of the players that would interest us are already part of our team. As always, we'll analyse what needs to be improved but the base is solid and we've already got it."

The champions will have a victory parade through the streets of Barcelona on Monday.

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